44. We have gone through thus much before the passage in the Proverbs, resisting the insensate fables which their hearts have invented, that they may know that the Son of God ought not to be called a creature, and may learn lightly to read what admits in truth of a right287 explanation. For it is written, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways, for His works288 ;’ since, however, these are proverbs, and it is expressed in the way of proverbs, we must not expound them nakedly in their first sense, but we must inquire into the person, and thus religiously put the sense on it. For what is said in proverbs, is not said plainly, but is put forth latently289 , as the Lord Himself has taught us in the Gospel according to John, saying, ‘These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs, but the time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but openly290 .’ Therefore it is necessary to unfold the sense291 of what is said, and to seek it as something hidden, and not nakedly to expound as if the meaning were spoken ‘plainly,’ lest by a false interpretation we wander from the truth. If then what is written be about Angel, or any other of things originate, as concerning one of us who are works, let it be said, ‘created me;’ but if it be the Wisdom of God, in whom all things originate have been framed, that speaks concerning Itself, what ought we to understand but that ‘He created’ means nothing contrary to ‘He begat?’ Nor, as forgetting that It is Creator and Framer, or ignorant of the difference between the Creator and the creatures, does It number Itself among the creatures; but It signifies a certain sense, as in proverbs, not ‘plainly,’ but latent; which It inspired the saints to use in prophecy, while soon after It doth Itself give the meaning of ‘He created’ in other but parallel expressions, saying, ‘Wisdom made herself a house292 .’ Now it is plain that our body is Wisdom’s house293 , which It took on Itself to become man; hence consistently does John say, ‘The Word was made flesh294 ;’ and by Solomon Wisdom says of Itself with cautious exactness295 , not ‘I am a creature,’ but only ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways for His works296 ,’ yet not ‘created me that I might have being,’ nor ‘because I have a creature’s beginning and origin.’
45. For in this passage, not as signifying the Essence of His Godhead, nor His own everlasting and genuine generation from the Father, has the Word spoken by Solomon, but on the other hand His manhood and Economy towards us. And, as I said before, He has not said ‘I am a creature,’ or ‘I became a creature,’ but only ‘He created297 .’ For the creatures, having a created essence, are originate, and are said to be created, and of course the creature is created: but this mere term ‘He created’ does not necessarily signify the essence or the generation, but indicates something else as coming to pass in Him of whom it speaks, and not simply that He who is said to be created, is at once in His Nature and Essence a creature298 . And this difference divine Scripture recognises, saying concerning the creatures, ‘The earth is full of Thy creation,’ and ‘the creation itself groaneth together and travaileth together299 ;’ and in the Apocalypse it says, ‘And the third part of the creatures in the sea died which had life;’ as also Paul says, ‘Every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving300 ;’ and in the book of Wisdom it is written, ‘Having ordained man through Thy wisdom, that he should have dominion over the creatures which Thou hast made301 .’ And these, being creatures, are also said to be created, as we may further hear from the Lord, who says, ‘He who created them, made them male and female302 ;’ and from Moses in the Song, who writes, ‘Ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from the one side of heaven unto the other303 .’ And Paul in Colossians, ‘Who is the Image of the Invisible God, the Firstborn of every creature, for in Him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created through Him, and for Him, and He is before all304 .’
46. That to be called creatures, then, and to be created belongs to things which have by nature a created essence, these passages are sufficient to remind us, though Scripture is full of the like; on the other hand that the single word ‘He created’ does not simply denote the essence and mode of generation, David shews in the Psalm, ‘This shall be written for another generation, and the people that is created shall praise the Lord305 ;’ and again, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God306 ;’ and Paul in Ephesians says, ‘Having abolished the law of commandments contained in ordinances, for to create in Himself of two one new man307 ;’ and again, ‘Put ye on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness308 .’ For neither David spoke of any people created in essence, nor prayed to have another heart than that he had, but meant renovation according to God and renewal; nor did Paul signify two persons created in essence in the Lord, nor again did he counsel us to put on any other man; but he called the life according to virtue the ‘man after God,’ and by the ‘created’ in Christ he meant the two people who are renewed in Him. Such too is the language of the book of Jeremiah; ‘The Lord created a new salvation for a planting, in which salvation men shall walk to and fro309 ;’ and in thus speaking, he does not mean any essence of a creature, but prophesies of the renewal of salvation among men, which has taken place in Christ for us. Such then being the difference between ‘the creatures’ and the single word ‘He created,’ if you find anywhere in divine Scripture the Lord called ‘creature,’ produce it and fight; but if it is nowhere written that He is a creature, only He Himself says about Himself in the Proverbs, ‘The Lord created me,’ shame upon you, both on the ground of the distinction aforesaid and for that the diction is like that of proverbs; and accordingly let ‘He created’ be understood, not of His being a creature, but of that human nature which became His, for to this belongs creation. Indeed is it not evidently unfair in you, when David and Paul say ‘He created,’ then indeed not to understand it of the essence and the generation, but the renewal; yet, when the Lord says ‘He created’ to number His essence with the creatures? and again when Scripture says, ‘Wisdom built her an house, she set it upon seven pillars310 ,’ to understand ‘house’ allegorically, but to take ‘He created’ as it stands, and to fasten on it the idea of creature? and neither His being Framer of all has had any weight with you, nor have you feared His being the sole and proper Offspring of the Father, but recklessly, as if you had enlisted against Him, do ye fight, and think less of Him than of men.
47. For the very passage proves that it is only an invention of your own to call the Lord creature For the Lord, knowing His own Essence to be the Only-begotten Wisdom and Offspring of the Father, and other than things originate and natural creatures, says in love to man, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways,’ as if to say, ‘My Father hath prepared for Me a body, and has created Me for men in behalf of their salvation.’ For, as when John says, ‘The Word was made flesh311 ,’ we do not conceive the whole Word Himself to be flesh312 , but to have put on flesh and become man, and on hearing, ‘Christ hath become a curse for us,’ and ‘He hath made Him sin for us who knew no sin313 ,’ we do not simply conceive this, that whole Christ has become curse and sin, but that He has taken on Him the curse which lay against us (as the Apostle has said, ‘Has redeemed us from the curse,’ and ‘has carried,’ as Isaiah has said, ‘our sins,’ and as Peter has written, ‘has borne them in the body on the wood314 ’); so, if it is said in the Proverbs ‘He created,’ we must not conceive that the whole Word is in nature a creature, but that He put on the created body315 and that God created Him for our sakes, preparing for Him the created body, as it is written, for us, that in Him we might be capable of being renewed and deified. What then deceived you, O senseless, to call the Creator a creature? or whence did you purchase for you this new thought, to parade it316 ? For the Proverbs say ‘He created,’ but they call not the Son creature, but Offspring; and, according to the distinction in Scripture aforesaid of ‘He created’ and ‘creature,’ they acknowledge, what is by nature proper to the Son, that He is the Only-begotten Wisdom and Framer of the creatures, and when they say ‘He created,’ they say it not in respect of His Essence, but signify that He was becoming a beginning of many ways; so that ‘He created’ is in contrast to ‘Offspring,’ and His being called the ‘Beginning of ways317 ’ to His being the Only-begotten Word.
48. For if He is Offspring, how call ye Him creature? for no one says that He begets what He creates, nor calls His proper offspring creatures; and again, if He is Only-begotten, how becomes He ‘beginning of the ways?’ for of necessity, if He was created a beginning of all things, He is no longer alone, as having those who came into being after Him. For Reuben, when he became a beginning of the children318 , was not only-begotten, but in time indeed first, but in nature and relationship one among those who came after him. Therefore if the Word also is ‘a beginning of the ways,’ He must be such as the ways are, and the ways must be such as the Word, though in point of time He be created first of them. For the beginning or initiative of a city is such as the other parts of the city are, and the members too being joined to it, make the city whole and one, as the many members of one body; nor does one part of it make, and another come to be, and is subject to the former, but all the city equally has its government and constitution from its maker. If then the Lord is in such sense created as a ‘beginning’ of all things, it would follow that He and all other things together make up the unity of the creation, and He neither differs from all others, though He become the ‘beginning’ of all, nor is He Lord of them, though older in point of time; but He has the same manner of framing and the same Lord as the rest. Nay, if He be a creature, as you hold, how can He be created sole and first at all, so as to be beginning of all? when it is plain from what has been said, that among the creatures not any is of a constant319 nature and of prior formation, but each has its origination with all the rest, however it may excel others in glory. For as to the separate stars or the great lights, not this appeared first, and that second, but in one day and by the same command, they were all called into being. And such was the original formation of the quadrupeds, and of birds, and fishes, and cattle, and plants; thus too has the race made after God’s Image come to be, namely men; for though Adam only was formed out of earth, yet in him was involved the succession of the whole race.
49. And from the visible creation, we clearly discern that His invisible things also, ‘being perceived by the things that are made320 ,’ are not independent of each other; for it was not first one and then another, but all at once were constituted after their kind. For the Apostle did not number individually, so as to say ‘whether Angel, or Throne, or Dominion, or Authority,’ but he mentions together all according to their kind, ‘whether Angels, or Archangels, or Principalities321 :’ for in this way is the origination of the creatures. If then, as I have said, the Word were creature He must have been brought into being, not first of them, but with all the other Powers, though in glory He excel the rest ever so much. For so we find it to be in their case, that at once they came to be, with neither first nor second, and they differ from each other in glory, some on the right of the throne, some all around, and some on the left, but one and all praising and standing in service before the Lord322 . Therefore if the Word be creature He would not be first or beginning of the rest yet if He be before all, as indeed He is, and is Himself alone First and Son, it does not follow that He is beginning of all things as to His Essence323 , for what is the beginning of all is in the number of all. And if He is not such a beginning, then neither is He a creature, but it is very plain that He differs in essence and nature from the creatures, and is other than they, and is Likeness and Image of the sole and true God, being Himself sole also. Hence He is not classed with creatures in Scripture, but David rebukes those who dare even to think of Him as such, saying, ‘Who among the gods is like unto the Lord324 ?’ and ‘Who is like unto the Lord among the sons of God?’ and Baruch, ‘This is our God, and another shall not be reckoned wills Him325 .’ For the One creates, and the rest are created; and the One is the own Word and Wisdom of the Father’s Essence, and through this Word things which came to be, which before existed not, were made.
50. Your famous assertion then, that the Son is a creature, is not true, but is your fantasy only; nay Solomon convicts you of having many times slandered him. For he has not called Him creature, but God’s Offspring and Wisdom, saying, ‘God in Wisdom established the earth,’ and ‘Wisdom built her an house326 .’ And the very passage in question proves your irreligious spirit; for it is written, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways for His works.’ Therefore if He is before all things, yet says ‘He created me’ (not ‘that I might make the works,’ but) ‘for the works,’ unless ‘He created’ relates to something later than Himself, He will seem later than the works, finding them on His creation already in existence before Him, for the sake of which He is also brought into being. And if so, how is He before all things notwithstanding? and how were all things made through Him and consist in Him? for behold, you say that the works consisted before Him, for which He is created and sent. But it is not so; perish the thought! false is the supposition of the heretics. For the Word of God is not creature but Creator; and says in the manner of proverbs, ‘He created me’ when He put on created flesh. And something besides may be understood from the passage itself; for, being Son and having God for His Father, for He is His proper Offspring, yet here He names the Father Lord; not that He was servant, but because He took the servant’s form. For it became Him, on the one hand being the Word from the Father, to call God Father: for this is proper to son towards father; on the other, having come to finish the work, and taken a servant’s form, to name the Father Lord. And this difference He Himself has taught by an apt distinction, saying in the Gospels, ‘I thank Thee, O Father,’ and then, ‘Lord of heaven and earth327 .’ For He calls God His Father, but of the creatures He names Him Lord; as shewing clearly from these words, that, when He put on the creature328 , then it was He called the Father Lord. For in the prayer of David the Holy. Spirit marks the same distinction, saying in the Psalms, ‘Give Thy strength unto Thy Child, and help the Son of Thine handmaid329 .’ For the natural and true child of God is one, and the sons of the handmaid, that is, of the nature of things originate, are other. Wherefore the One, as Son, has the Father’s might; but the rest are in need of salvation.51. (But if, because He was called child, they idly talk, let them know that both Isaac was named Abraham’s child, and the son of the Shunamite was called young child). Reasonably then, we being servants, when He became as we, He too calls the Father Lord, as we do; and this He has so done from love to man, that we too, being servants by nature, and receiving the Spirit of the Son, might have confidence to call Him by grace Father, who is by nature our Lord. But as we, in calling the Lord Father, do not deny our servitude by nature (for we are His works, and it is ‘He that hath made us, and not we ourselves330 ’), so when the Son, on taking the servant’s form, says, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways,’ let them not deny the eternity of His Godhead, and that ‘in the beginning was the Word,’ and ‘all things were made by Him,’ and ‘in Him all things were created331 .’
Our Lord is said to be created ‘for the works,’ i.e. with a particular purpose, which no mere creatures are ever said to be. Parallel of Isai. 49,5, &c. When His manhood is spoken of, a reason for it is added; not so when His Divine Nature; Texts in proof.
51 (continued). For the passage in the Proverbs, as I have said before, signifies, not the Essence, but the manhood of the Word; for if He says that He was created ‘for the works,’ He shews His intention of signifying, not His Essence, but the Economy which took place ‘for His works,’ which comes second to being. For things which are in formation and creation are made specially that they may be and exist332 , and next they have to do whatever the Word bids them, as may be seen in the case of all things. For Adam was created, not that He might work, but that first he might be man; for it was after this that he received the command to work. And Noah was created, not because of the ark, but that first he might exist and be a man; for after this he received commandment to prepare the ark. And the like will be found in every case on inquiring into it;—thus the great Moses first was made a man, and next was entrusted with the government of the people. Therefore here too we must suppose the like; for thou seest, that the Word is not created into existence, but, ‘In the beginning was the Word,’ and He is afterwards sent ‘for the works’ and the Economy towards them. For before the works were made, the Son was ever, nor was there yet need that He should be created; but when the works were created and need arose afterwards of the Economy for their restoration, then it was that the Word took upon Himself this condescension and assimilation to the works; which He has shewn us by the word ‘He created.’ And through the Prophet Isaiah willing to signify the like, He says again: ‘And now thus saith the Lord, who formed me from the womb to be His servant, to gather together Jacob unto Him and Israel, I shall be brought together and be glorified before the Lord333 .’
52. See here too, He is formed, not into existence, but in order to gather together the tribes, which were in existence before He was formed. For as in the former passage stands ‘He created,’ so in this ‘He formed;’ and as there ‘for the works,’ so here ‘to gather together;’ so that in every point of view it appears that ‘He created’ and ‘He formed’ are said after ‘the Word was.’ For as before His forming the tribes existed, for whose sake He was formed, so does it appear that the works exist, for which He was created. And when ‘in the beginning was the Word,’ not yet were the works, as I have said before; but when the works were made and the need required, then ‘He created’ was said; and as if some son, when the servants were lost, and in the hands of the enemy by their own carelessness, and need was urgent, were sent by his father to succour and recover them, and on setting out were to put over him the like dress334 with them, and should fashion himself as they, test the capturers, recognising him335 as the master, should take to flight and prevent his descending to those who were hidden under the earth by them; and then were any one to inquire of him, why he did so, were to make answer, ‘My Father thus formed and prepared me for his works,’ while in thus speaking, he neither implies that he is a servant nor one of the works, nor speaks of the beginning of His origination, but of the subsequent charge given him over the works,—in the same way the Lord also, having put over Him our flesh, and ‘being found in fashion as a man,’ if He were questioned by those who saw Him thus and marvelled, would say, ‘The Lord created Me the beginning of His ways for His works,’ and ‘He formed Me to gather together Israel.’ This again the Spirit336 foretells in the Psalms, saying, ‘Thou didst set Him over the works of Thine hands337 ;’ which elsewhere the Lord signified of Himself, ‘I am set as King by Him upon His holy hill of Sion338 .’ And as, when He shone339 in the body upon Sion, He had not His beginning of existence or of reign, but being God’s Word and everlasting King, He vouchsafed that His kingdom should shine in a human way in Sion, that redeeming them and us from the sin which reigned in them, He might bring them under His Father’s Kingdom, so, on being set ‘for the works,’ He is not set for things which did not yet exist, but for such as already were and needed restoration.
53. ‘He created’ then and ‘He formed’ and ‘He set,’ having the same meaning, do not denote the beginning of His being, or of His essence as created, but His beneficent renovation which came to pass for us. Accordingly, though He thus speaks, yet He taught also that He Himself existed before this, when He said, ‘Before Abraham came to be, I am340 ;’ and ‘when He prepared the heavens, I was present with Him;’ and ‘I was with Him disposing things341 .’ And as He Himself was before Abraham came to be, and Israel had come into being after Abraham, and plainly He exists first and is formed afterwards, and His forming signifies not His beginning of being but His taking manhood, wherein also He collects together the tribes of Israel; so, as ‘being always with the Father,’ He Himself is Framer of the creation, and His works are evidently later than Himself, and ‘He created’ signifies, not His beginning of being, but the Economy which took place for the works, which He effected in the flesh. For it became Him, being other than the works, nay rather their Framer, to take upon Himself their renovation342 , that, whereas He is created for us, all things may be now created in Him. For when He said ‘He created,’ He forthwith added the reason, naming ‘the works,’ that His creation for the works might signify His becoming man for their renovation. And this is usual with divine Scripture343 ; for when it signifies the fleshly origination of the Son, it adds also the cause344 for which He became man; but when he speaks or His servants declare anything of His Godhead, all is said in simple diction, and with an absolute sense, and without reason being added. For He is the Father’s Radiance; and as the Father is, but not for any reason, neither must we seek the reason of that Radiance. Thus it is written, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God345 ;’ and the wherefore it assigns not346 ; but when ‘the Word was made flesh347 ,’ then it adds the reason why, saying, ‘And dwelt among us.’ And again the Apostle saying, ‘Who being in the form of God,’ has not introduced the reason, till ‘He took on Him the form of a servant;’ for then he continues, ‘He humbled Himself unto death, even the death of the cross348 ;’ for it was for this that He both became flesh and took the form of a servant.
54. And the Lord Himself has spoken many things in proverbs; but when giving us notices about Himself, He has spoken absolutely349 ; ‘I in the Father and the Father in Me,’ and ‘I and the Father are one,’ and, ‘He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father, and I am the Light of the world,’ and, ‘I am the Truth350 ;’ not setting down in every case the reason, nor the wherefore, lest He should seem second to those things for which He was made. For that reason would needs take precedence of Him, without which not even He Himself had come into being. Paul, for instance, ‘separated an Apostle for the Gospel, which the Lord had promised afore by the Prophets351 ,’ was thereby made subordinate to the Gospel, of which he was made minister, and John, being chosen to prepare the Lord’s way, was made subordinate to the Lord; but the Lord, not being made subordinate to any reason why He should be Word, save only that He is the Father’s Offspring and Only-begotten Wisdom, when He becomes man, then assigns the reason why He is about to take flesh. For the need of man preceded His becoming man, apart from which He had not put on flesh352 . And what the need was for which He became man, He Himself thus signifies, ‘I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. And this is the will of Him which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of My Father, that every one which seeth the Son and believeth on Him may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day353 .’ And again; ‘I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me, should not abide in darkness354 .’ And again he says; ‘To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth355 .’ And John has written: ‘For this was manifested the Son of God, that He might destroy the works of the devil356 .’
55. To give a witness then, and for our sakes to undergo death, to raise man up and destroy the works of the devil357 , the Saviour came, and this is the reason of His incarnate presence. For otherwise a resurrection had not been, unless there had been death; and how had death been, unless He had had a mortal body? This the Apostle, learning from Him, thus sets forth, ‘Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage358 .’ And, ‘Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead359 .’ And again, ‘For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the ordinance of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit360 .’ And John says, ‘For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved361 .’ And again, the Saviour has spoken in His own person, ‘For judgment am I come into this world, that they who see not might see, and that they which see might become blind362 .’ Not for Himself then, but for our salvation, and to abolish death, and to condemn sin, and to give sight to the blind, and to raise up all from the dead, has He come; but if not for Himself, but for us, by consequence not for Himself but for us is He created. But if not for Himself is He created, but for us, then He is not Himself a creature, but, as having put on our flesh, He uses such language. And that this is the sense of the Scriptures, we may learn from the Apostle, who says in Ephesians, ‘Having broken down the middle wall of partition between us, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances, to create in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace363 .’ But if in Him the twain are created, and these are in His body, reasonably then, bearing the twain in Himself, He is as if Himself created; for those who were created in Himself He made one, and He was in them, as they. And thus, the two being created in Him, He may say suitably, ‘The Lord created me.’ For as by receiving our infirmities, He is said to be infirm Himself, though not Himself infirm, for He is the Power of God, and He became sin for us and a curse, though not having sinned Himself, but because He Himself bare our sins and our curse, so364 , by creating us in Him, let Him say, ‘He created me for the works,’ though not Himself a creature.
56. For if, as they hold, the Essence of the Word being of created nature, therefore He says, ‘The Lord created me,’ being a creature, He was not created for us; but if He was not created for us, we are not created in Him; and, if not created in Him, we have Him not in ourselves but externally; as, for instance, as receiving instruction from Him as from a teacher365 . And it being so with us, sin has not lost its reign over the flesh, being inherent and not cast out of it. But the Apostle opposes such a doctrine a little before, when he says, ‘For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus366 ;’ and if in Christ we are created, then it is not He who is created, but we in Him; and thus the words ‘He created’ are for our sake. For because of our need, the Word, though being Creator, endured words which are used of creatures; which are not proper to Him, as being the Word, but are ours who are created in Him. And as, since the Father is always, so is His Word, and always being, always says ‘I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him367 ,’ and ‘I am in the Father and the Father in Me368 ;’ so, when for our need He became man, consistently does He use language, as ourselves, ‘The Lord hath created Me,’ that, by His dwelling in the flesh, sin might perfectly be expelled from the flesh, and we might have a free mind369 . For what ought He, when made man, to say? ‘In the beginning I was man?’ this were neither suitable to Him nor true; and as it beseemed not to say this, so it is natural and proper in the case of man to say, ‘He created’ and ‘He made’ Him. On this account then the reason of ‘He created’ is added, namely, the need of the works; and where the reason is added, surely the reason rightly explains the lection. Thus here, when He says ‘He created,’ He sets down the cause, ‘the works;’ on the other hand, when He signifies absolutely the generation from the Father, straightway He adds, ‘Before all the hills He begets me370 ;’ but He does not add the ‘wherefore,’ as in the case of ‘He created,’ saying, ‘for the works,’ but absolutely, ‘He begets me,’ as in the text, ‘In the beginning was the Word371 .’ For, though no works had been created, still ‘the Word’ of God ‘was,’ and ‘the Word was God.’ And His becoming man would not have taken place, had not the need of men become a cause. The Son then is not a creature.
Our Lord not said in Scripture to be ‘created,’ or the works to be ‘begotten.’ ‘In the beginning’ means in the case of the works ‘from the beginning.’ Scripture passages explained. We are made by God first, begotten next; creatures by nature, sons by grace. Christ begotten first, made or created afterwards. Sense of ‘First-born of the dead;’ of ‘First-born among many brethren;’ of ‘First-born of all creation,’ contrasted with ‘Only-begotten.’ Further interpretation of ‘beginning of ways,’ and ‘for the works.’ Why a creature could not redeem; why redemption was necessary at all. Texts which contrast the Word and the works.
57). For had He been a creature, He had not said, ‘He begets me,’ for the creatures are from without, and are works of the Maker; but the Offspring is not from without nor a work, but from the Father, and proper to His Essence. Wherefore they are creatures; this God’s Word and Only-begotten Son. For instance, Moses did not say of the creation, ‘In the beginning He begat,’ nor ‘In the beginning was,’ but ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth372 .’ Nor did David say in the Psalm, ‘Thy hands have “begotten me,”’ but ‘made me and fashioned me373 ,’ everywhere applying the word ‘made’ to the creatures. But to the Son contrariwise; for he has not said ‘I made,’ but ‘I begat374 ,’ and ‘He begets me,’ and ‘My heart uttered a good Word375 .’ And in the instance of the creation, ‘In the beginning He made;’ but in the instance of the Son, ‘In the beginning was the Word376 .’ And there is this difference, that the creatures are made upon the beginning, and have a beginning of existence connected with an interval; wherefore also what is said of them, ‘In the beginning He made,’ is as much as saying of them, ‘From the beginning He made:’—as the Lord, knowing that which He had made, taught, when He silenced the Pharisees, with the words, ‘He which made them from the beginning, made them male and female377 ;’ for from some beginning, when they were not yet, were originate things brought into being and created. This too the Holy Spirit has signified in the Psalms, saying, ‘Thou, Lord, at the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth378 ;’ and again, ‘O think upon Thy congregation which Thou hast purchased from the beginning379 ;’ now it is plain that what takes place at the beginning, has a beginning of creation, and that from some beginning God purchased His congregation. And that ‘In the beginning He made,’ from his saying ‘made,’ means ‘began to make,’ Moses himself shews by saying, after the completion of all things, ‘And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because that in it He had rested from all His work which God began to make380 .’ Therefore the creatures began to be made; but the Word of God, not having beginning of being, certainly did not begin to be, nor begin to come to be, but was ever. And the works have their beginning in their making, and their beginning precedes their coming to be; but the Word, not being of things which come to be, rather comes to be Himself the Framer of those which have a beginning. And the being of things originate is measured by their becoming381 , and from some beginning does God begin to make them through the Word, that it may be known that they were not before their origination; but the Word has His being, in no other beginning382 than the Father, whom383 they allow to be without beginning, so that He too exists without beginning? the Father, being His Offspring, not His creature).
58. Thus does divine Scripture recognise the difference between the Offspring and things made, and shew that the Offspring is a Son, not begun from any beginning, but eternal; but that the thing made, as an external work of the Maker, began to come into being. John therefore delivering divine doctrine384 about the Son, and knowing the difference of the phrases, said not, ‘In the beginning has become’ or ‘been made,’ but ‘In the beginning was the Word;’ that we might understand ‘Offspring’ by ‘was,’ and not account of Him by intervals, but believe the Son always and eternally to exist. And with these proofs, how, O Arians, misunderstanding the passage in Deuteronomy, did you venture a fresh act of irreligion385 against the Lord, saying that ‘He is a work,’ or ‘creature,’ or indeed ‘offspring?’ for offspring and work you take to mean the same thing; but here too you shall be shewn to be as unlearned as you are irreligious. Your first passage is this, ‘Is not He thy Father that bought thee? did He not make thee and create thee386 ?’ And shortly after in the same Song he says, ‘God that begat thee thou didst desert, and forgattest God that nourished thee387 .’ Now the meaning conveyed in these passages is very remarkable; for he says not first ‘He begat,’ lest that term should be taken as indiscriminate with ‘He made,’ and these men should have a pretence for saying, ‘Moses tells us indeed that God said from the beginning, “Let Us make man388 ,”’ but he soon after says himself, ‘God that begat thee thou didst desert,’ as if the terms were indifferent; for offspring and work are the same. But after the words ‘bought’ and ‘made,’ he has added last of all ‘begat,’ that the sentence might carry its own interpretation; for in the word ‘made’ he accurately denotes what belongs to men by nature, to be works and things made; but in the word ‘begat’ he shews God’s lovingkindness exercised towards men after He had created them. And since they have proved ungrateful upon this, thereupon Moses reproaches them, saying first, ‘Do ye thus requite the Lord?’ and then adds, ‘Is not He thy Father that bought thee? Did He not make thee and create thee389 ?’ And next he says, ‘They sacrificed unto devils, not to God, to gods whom they knew not. New gods and strange came up, whom your fathers knew not; the God that begat thee thou didst desert390 .’
59. For God not only created them to be men, but called them to be sons, as having begotten them. For the term ‘begat’ is here as elsewhere expressive of a Son, as He says by the Prophet, ‘I begat sons and exalted them;’ and generally, when Scripture wishes to signify a son, it does so, not by the term ‘created,’ but undoubtedly by that of ‘begat.’ And this John seems to say, ‘He gave to them power to become children of God, even to them that believe on His Name; which were begotten not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God391 .’ And here too the cautious distinction392 is well kept up, for first he says ‘become,’ because they are not called sons by nature but by adoption; then he says ‘were begotten,’ because they too had received at any rate the name of son. But the People, as says the Prophet, ‘despised’ their Benefactor. But this is God’s kindness to man, that of whom He is Maker, of them according to grace He afterwards becomes Father also; becomes, that is, when men, His creatures, receive into their hearts, as the Apostle says, ‘the Spirit of His Son, crying, Abba, Father393 .’ And these are they who, having received the Word, gained power from Him to become sons of God; for they could not become sons, being by nature creatures, otherwise than by receiving the Spirit of the natural and true Son. Wherefore, that this might be, ‘The Word became flesh,’ that He might make man capable of Godhead. This same meaning may be gained also from the Prophet Malachi, who says, ‘Hath not One God created us? Have we not all one Father394 ?’ for first he puts ‘created,’ next ‘Father,’ to shew, as the other writers, that from the beginning we were creatures by nature, and God is our Creator through the Word; but afterwards we were made sons, and thenceforward God the Creator becomes our Father also. Therefore ‘Father’ is proper to the Son; and not ‘creature,’ but ‘Son’ is proper to the Father. Accordingly this passage also proves, that we are not sons by nature, but the Son who is in us395 ; and again, that God is not our Father by nature, but of that Word in us, in whom and because of whom we ‘cry, Abba, Father396 .’ And so in like manner, the Father calls them sons in whomsoever He sees His own Son, and says, ‘I begat;’ since begetting is significant of a Son, and making is indicative of the works. And thus it is that we are not begotten first, but made; for it is written, ‘Let Us make man397 ;’ but afterwards, on receiving the grace of the Spirit, we are said thenceforth to be begotten also; just as the great Moses in his Song with an apposite meaning says first ‘He bought,’ and afterwards ‘He begat;’ lest, hearing ‘He begat,’ they might forget their own original nature; but that they might know that from the beginning they are creatures, but when according to grace they are said to be begotten, as sons, still no less than before are men works according to nature.
60. And that creature and offspring are not the same, but differ from each other in nature and the signification of the words, the Lord Himself shews even in the Proverbs. For having said, ‘The Lord treated me a beginning of His ways;’ He has added, ‘But before all the hills He begat me.’ If then the Word were by nature and in His Essence398 a creature, and there were no difference between offspring and creature, He would not have added, ‘He begat me,’ but had been satisfied with ‘He created,’ as if that term implied ‘He begat;’ but, as it is, after saying, ‘He created me a beginning of His ways for His works,’ He has added, not simply ‘begat me,’ but with the connection of the conjunction ‘But,’ as guarding thereby the term ‘created,’ when he says, ‘But before all the hills He begat me.’ For ‘begat me’ succeeding in such close connection to ‘created me,’ makes the meaning one, and shews that ‘created’ is said with an object399 , but that ‘begat me’ is prior to ‘created me.’ For as, if He had said the reverse, ‘The Lord begat me,’ and went on, ‘But before the hills He created me,’ ‘created’ would certainly precede ‘begat,’ so having said first ‘created,’ and then added ‘But before all the hills He begat me,’ He necessarily shews that ‘begat’ preceded ‘created.’ For in saying, ‘Before all lie begat me,’ He intimates that He is other than all things; it having been shewn to be true400 in an earlier part of this book, that no one creature was made before another, but all things originate subsisted at once together upon one and the same command401 . Therefore neither do the words which follow ‘created,’ also follow ‘begat me;’ but in the case of ‘created’ is added ‘beginning of ways,’ but of ‘begat me,’ He says not, ‘He begat me as a beginning,’ but ‘before all He begat me.’ But He who is before all is not a beginning of all, but is other than all402 ; but if other than all (in which ‘all’ the beginning of all is included), it follows that He is other than the creatures; and it becomes a clear point, that the Word, being other than all things and before all, afterwards is created ‘a beginning of the ways for works,’ because He became man, that, as the Apostle has said, He who is the ‘Beginning’ and ‘First-born from the dead, in all things might have the preeminence403 .’
61. Such then being the difference between ‘created’ and ‘begat me,’ and between ‘beginning of ways’ and ‘before all,’ God, being first Creator, next, as has been said, becomes Father of men, because of His Word dwelling in them. But in the case of the Word the reverse; for God, being His Father by nature, becomes afterwards both His Creator and Maker, when the Word puts on that flesh which was created and made, and becomes man. For, as men, receiving the Spirit of the Son, become children through Him, so the Word of God, when He Himself puts on the flesh of man, then is said both to be created and to have been made. If then we are by nature sons, then is He by nature creature and work; but if we become sons by adoption and grace, then has the Word also, when in grace towards us He became man, said, ‘The Lord created me.’ And in the next place, when He put on a created nature and became like us in body, reasonably was He therefore called both our Brother and ‘First-born404 .’ For though it was after us405 that He was made man for us, and our brother by similitude of body, still He is therefore called and is the ‘First-born’ of us, because, all men being lost, according to the transgression of Adam, His flesh before all others was saved and liberated, as being the Word’s body406 ; and henceforth we, becoming incorporate with It, are saved after Its pattern. For in It the Lord becomes our guide to the Kingdom of Heaven and to His own Father, saying, ‘I am the way’ and ‘the door407 ,’ and ‘through Me all must enter.’ Whence also is He said to be ‘First-born from the dead408 ,’ not that He died before us, for we had died first; but because having undergone death for us and abolished it, He was the first to rise, as man, for our sakes raising His own Body. Henceforth He having risen, we too from Him and because of Him rise in due course from the dead).
62. But if He is also called ‘First-born of the creation409 ,’ still this is not as if He were levelled to the creatures, and only first of them in point of time (for how should that be, since He is ‘Only-begotten?’), but it is because of the Word’s condescension410 to the creatures, according to which He has become the ‘Brother’ of ‘many.’ For the term ‘Only-begotten’ is used where there are no brethren, but ‘First-born411 ’ because of brethren. Accordingly it is nowhere written in the Scriptures, ‘the first-born of God,’ nor ‘the creature of God;’ but ‘Only-begotten’ and ‘Son’ and ‘Word’ and ‘Wisdom,’ refer to Him as proper to the Father412 . Thus, ‘We have seen His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father413 ;’ and ‘God sent His Only-begotten Son414 ;’ and ‘O Lord, Thy Word endureth for ever415 ;’ and ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God;’ and ‘Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God416 ;’ and ‘This is My beloved Son;’ and ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God417 .’ But ‘first-born’ implied the descent to the creation418 ; for of it has He been called first-born; and ‘He created’ implies His grace towards the works, for for them is He created. If then He is Only-begotten, as indeed He is, ‘First-born’ needs some explanation; but if He be really First-born, then He is not Only-begotten419 . For the same cannot be both Only-begotten and First-born, except in different relations;—that is, Only-begotten, because of His generation from the Father, as has been said; and First-born, because of His condescension to the creation and His making the many His brethren. Certainly, those two terms being inconsistent with each other, one should say that the attribute of being Only-begotten has justly the preference in the instance of the Word, in that there is no other Word, or other Wisdom, but He alone is very Son of the Father. Moreover420 , as was before421 said, not in connection with any reason, but absolutely422 it is said of Him, ‘The Only-begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father423 ;’ but the word ‘First-born’ has again the creation as a reason in connection with it, which Paul proceeds to say, ‘for in Him all things were created424 .’ But if all the creatures were created in Him, He is other than the creatures, and is not a creature, but the Creator of the creatures.
63. Not then because He was from the Father was He called ‘First-born,’ but because in Him the creation came to be; and as before the creation He was the Son, through whom was the creation, so also before He was called the First-born of the whole creation, not the less was the Word Himself with God and the Word was God. But this also not understanding, these irreligious men go about saying, ‘If He is First-born of all creation, it is plain that He too is one of the creation.’ Senseless men! if He is simply ‘First-born425 of the whole creation,’ then He is other than the whole creation; for he says not, ‘He is First-born above the rest of the creatures,’ lest He be reckoned to be as one of the creatures, but it is written, ‘of the whole creation,’ that He may appear other than the creation426 . Reuben, for instance, is not said to be first-born of all the children of Jacob427 , but of Jacob himself and his brethren; lest he should be thought to be some other beside the children of Jacob. Nay, even concerning the Lord Himself the Apostle says not, ‘that He may become First-born of all,’ lest He be thought to bear a body other than ours, but ‘among many brethren428 ,’ because of the likeness of the flesh. If then the Word also were one of the creatures, Scripture would have said of Him also that He was First-born of other creatures; but in fact, the saints saying that He is ‘First-born of the whole creation429 ,’ the Son of God is plainly shewn to be other than the whole creation and not a creature. For if He is a creature, He will be First-born of Himself. How then is it possible, O Arians, for Him to be before and after Himself? next, if He is a creature, and the whole creation through Him came to be, and in Him consists, how can He both create the creation and be one of the things which consist in Him? Since then such a notion is in itself unseemly, it is proved against them by the truth, that He is called ‘First-born among many brethren’ because of the relationship of the flesh, and ‘First-born from the dead,’ because the resurrection of the dead is from Him and after Him; and ‘First-born of the whole creation,’ because of the Father’s love to man, which brought it to pass that in His Word not, only ‘all things consist430 ,’ but the creation itself, of which the Apostle speaks, ‘waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God, shall be delivered’ one time ‘from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God431 .’ Of this creation thus delivered, the Lord will be First-born, both of it and of all those who are made children, that by His being called first, those that come after Him may abide432 , as depending on the Word as a beginning433 .
64. And I think that the irreligious men themselves will be shamed from such a thought; for if the case stands not as we have said, but they will rule it that He is ‘First-born of the whole creation’ as in essence—a creature among creatures, let them reflect that they will be conceiving Him as brother and fellow of the things without reason and life. For of the whole creation these also are parts; and the ‘First-born’ must be first indeed in point of time but only thus, and in kind and similitude434 must be the same with all. How then can they say this without exceeding all measures of irreligion? or who will endure them, if this is their language? or who can but hate them even imagining such things? For it is evident to all, that neither for Himself, as being a creature, nor as having any connection according to essence with the whole creation, has He been called ‘First-born’ of it: but because the Word, when at the beginning He framed the creatures, condescended to things originate, that it might be possible for them to come to be. For they could not have endured His nature, which was untempered splendour, even that of the Father, unless condescending by the Father’s love for man He had supported them and taken hold of them and brought them into existence435 ; and next, because, by this condescension of the Word, the creation too is made a son436 through Him, that He might be in all respects ‘First-born’ of it, as has been said, both in creating, and also in being brought for the sake of all into this very world. For so it is written, ‘When He bringeth the First-born into the world, He saith, Let all the Angels of God worship Him437 .’ Let Christ’s enemies hear and tear themselves to pieces, because His coming into the world is what makes Him called ‘First-born’ of all; and thus the Son is the Father’s ‘Only-begotten,’ because He alone is from Him, and He is the ‘First-born of creations,’ because of this adoption of all as sons438 . And as He is First-born among brethren and rose from the dead ‘the first fruits of them that slept439 ;’ so, since it became Him ‘in all things to have the preeminence440 ,’ therefore He is created ‘a beginning of ways,’ that we, walking along it and entering through Him who says, ‘I am the Way’ and ‘the Door,’ and partaking of the knowledge of the Father, may also hear the words, ‘Blessed are the undefiled in the Way,’ and ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God441 .’
65. And thus since the truth declares that the Word is not by nature a creature, it is fitting now to say, in what sense He is ‘beginning of ways.’ For when the first way, which was through Adam, was lost, and in place of paradise we deviated unto death, and heard the words, ‘Dust thou art, and unto dust442 shall thou return,’ therefore the Word of God, who loves man, puts on Him created flesh at the Father’s will443 , that whereas the first man had made it dead through the transgression, He Himself might quicken it in the blood of His own body444 , and might open ‘for us a way new and living,’ as the Apostle says, ‘through the veil, that is to say, His flesh445 ;’ which he signifies elsewhere thus, ‘Wherefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new446 .’ But if a new creation has come to pass, some one must be first of this creation; now a man, made of earth only, such as we are become from the transgression, he could not be. For in the first creation, men had become unfaithful, and through them that first creation had been lost; and there was need of some one else to renew the first creation, and preserve the new which had come to be. Therefore from love to man none other than the Lord, the ‘beginning’ of the new creation, is created as ‘the Way,’ and consistently says, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of ways for His works;’ that man might walk no longer according to that first creation, but there being as it were a beginning of a new creation, and with the Christ ‘a beginning of its ways,’ we might follow Him henceforth, who says to us, ‘I am the Way:’—as the blessed Apostle teaches in Colossians, saying, ‘He is the Head of the body, the Church, who is the Beginning, the First-born from the dead, that in all things He might have the preeminence.’
66. For if, as has been said, because of the resurrection from the dead He is called a beginning, and then a resurrection took place when He, bearing our flesh, had given Himself to death for us, it is evident that His words, ‘He created me a beginning of ways,’ is indicative not of His essence447 , but of His bodily presence. For to the body death was proper448 ; and in like manner to the bodily presence are the words proper, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways.’ For since the Saviour was thus created according to the flesh, and had become a beginning of things new created, and had our first fruits, viz. that human flesh which He took to Himself, therefore after Him, as is fit, is created also the people to come, David saying, ‘Let this be written for another generation, and the people that shall be created shall praise the Lord449 .’ And again in the twenty-first Psalm, ‘The generation to come shall declare unto the Lord, and they shall declare His righteousness, unto a people that shall be born whom the Lord made450 .’ For we shall no more hear, ‘In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die451 ,’ but ‘Where I am, there ye’ shall ‘be also;’ so that we may say, ‘We are His workmanship, created unto good works452 .’ And again, since God’s work, that is, man, though created perfect, has become wanting through the transgression, and dead by sin, and it was unbecoming that the work of God should remain imperfect (wherefore all the saints were praying concerning this, for instance in the hundred and thirty-seventh Psalm, saying, ‘Lord, Thou shall requite for me; despise not then the works of Thine hands453 ’); therefore the perfect454 Word of God puts around Him an imperfect body, and is said to be created ‘for the works;’ that, paying the debt455 in our stead, He might, by Himself, perfect what was wanting to man. Now immortality was wanting to him, and the way to paradise. This then is what the Saviour says, ‘I glorified Thee on the earth, I perfected the work which Thou hast given Me to do456 ;’ and again, ‘The works which the Father hath given Me to perfect, the same works that I do, bear witness of Me;’ but ‘the works457 ’ He here says that the Father had given Him to perfect, are those for which He is created, saying in the Proverbs, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways, for His works;’ for it is all one to say, ‘The Father hath given me the works,’ and ‘The Lord created me for the works.’
67. When then received He the works to perfect, O God’s enemies? for from this also ‘He created’ will be understood. If ye say, ‘At the beginning when He brought them into being out of what was not,’ it is an untruth; for they were not yet made; whereas He appears to speak as taking what was already in being. Nor is it pious to refer to the time which preceded the Word’s becoming flesh, lest His coming should thereupon seem superfluous, since for the sake of these works that coming took place. Therefore it remains for us to say that when He has become man, then He took the works. For then He perfected them, by healing our wounds and vouchsafing to us the resurrection from the dead. But if, when the Word became flesh, then were given to Him the works, plainly when He became man, then also is He created for the works. Not of His essence then is ‘He created’ indicative, as has many times been said, but of His bodily generation. For then, because the works were become imperfect and mutilated from the transgression, He is said in respect to the body to be created; that by perfecting them and making them whole, He might present the Church unto the Father, as the Apostle says, ‘not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish458 .’ Mankind then is perfected in Him and restored, as it was made at the beginning, nay, with greater grace. For, on rising from the dead, we shall no longer fear death, but shall ever reign in Christ in the heavens. And this has been done, since the own Word of God Himself, who is from the Father, has put on the flesh, and become man. For if, being a creature, He had become man, man had remained just what he was, not joined to God; for how had a work been joined to the Creator by a work459 ? or what succour had come from like to like, when one as well as other needed it460 ? And how, were the Word a creature, had He power to undo God’s sentence, and to remit sin, whereas it is written in the Prophets, that this is God’s doing? For ‘who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by transgression461 ?’ For whereas God has said, ‘Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return462 ,’ men have become mortal; how then could things originate undo sin? but the Lord is He who has undone it, as He says Himself, ‘Unless the Son shall make you free463 ;’ and the Son, who made free, has shewn in truth that He is no creature, nor one of things originate, but the proper Word and Image of the Father’s Essence, who at the beginning sentenced, and alone remitteth sins. For since it is said in the Word, ‘Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return,’ suitably through the Word Himself and in Him the freedom and the undoing of the condemnation has come to pass.
68. ‘Yet,’ they say, ‘though the Saviour were a creature, God was able to speak the word only and undo the curse.’ And so another will tell them in like manner, ‘Without His coming among us at all, God was able just to speak and undo the curse;’ but we must consider what was expedient for mankind, and not what simply is possible with God464 . He could have destroyed, before the ark of Noah, the then transgressors; but He did it after the ark. He could too, without Moses, have spoken the word only and have brought the people out of Egypt; but it profited to do it through Moses. And God was able without the judges to save His people; but it was profitable for the people that for a season judges should be raised up to them. The Saviour too might have come among us from the beginning, or on His coming might not have been delivered to Pilate; but He came ‘at the fulness of the ages465 ,’ and when sought for said, ‘I am He466 .’ For what He does, that is profitable for men, and was not fitting in any other way; and what is profitable and fitting, for that He provides467 . Accordingly He came, not ‘that He might be ministered unto, but that He might minister468 ,’ and might work our salvation. Certainly He was able to speak the Law from heaven, but He saw that it was expedient to men for Him to speak from Sinai; and that He has done, that it might be possible for Moses to go up, and for them hearing the word near them the rather to believe. Moreover, the good reason of what He did may be seen thus; if God had but spoken, because it was in His power, and so the curse had been undone, the power had been shewn of Him who gave the word, but man had become such as Adam was before the transgression, having received grace from without469 , and not having it united to the body; (for he was such when he was placed in Paradise) nay, perhaps had become worse, because he had learned to transgress. Such then being his condition, had he been seduced by the serpent, there had been fresh need for God to give command and undo the curse; and thus the need had become interminable470 , and men had remained under guilt not less than before, as being enslaved to sin; and, ever sinning, would have ever needed one to pardon them, and had never become free, being in themselves flesh, and ever worsted by the Law because of the infirmity of the flesh.
69. Again, if the Son were a creature, man had remained mortal as before, not being joined to God; for a creature had not joined creatures to God, as seeking itself one to join it471 ; nor would a portion of the creation have been the creation’s salvation, as needing salvation itself. To provide against this also, He sends His own Son, and He becomes Son of Man, by taking created flesh; that, since all were under sentence of death, He, being other than them all, might Himself for all offer to death His own body; and that henceforth, as if all land died through Him, the word of that sentence might be accomplished (for ‘all died472 ’ in Christ), and all through Him might thereupon become free from sin and from the curse which came upon it, and might truly abide473 for ever, risen from the dead and clothed in immortality and incorruption. For the Word being clothed in the flesh, as has many times been explained, every bite of the serpent began to be utterly staunched from out it; and whatever evil sprung from the motions of the flesh, to be cut away, and with these death also was abolished, the companion of sin, as the Lord Himself says474 , ‘The prince of this world cometh, and findeth nothing in Me;’ and ‘For this end was He manifested,’ as John has written, ‘that He might destroy the works of the devil475 .’ And these being destroyed from the flesh, we all were thus liberated by the kinship of the flesh, and for the future were joined, even we, to the Word. And being joined to God, no longer do we abide upon earth; but, as He Himself has said, where He is, there shall we be also; and henceforward we shall fear no longer the serpent, for he was brought to nought when he was assailed by the Saviour in the flesh, and heard Him say, ‘Get thee behind Me, Satan476 ,’ and thus he is cast out of paradise into the eternal fire. Nor shall we have to watch against woman beguiling us, for ‘in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the Angels477 ;’ and in Christ Jesus it shall be ‘a new creation,’ and ‘neither male nor female, but all and in all Christ478 ;’ and where Christ is, what fear, what danger can still happen?
70. But this would not have come to pass, had the Word been a creature; for with a creature, the devil, himself a creature, would have ever continued the battle, and man, being between the two, had been ever in peril of death, having none in whom and through whom he might be joined to God and delivered from all fear. Whence the truth shews us that the Word is not of things originate, but rather Himself their Framer. For therefore did He assume the body originate and human, that having renewed it as its Framer, He might deify it479 in Himself, and thus might introduce us all into the kingdom of heaven after His likeness. For man had not been deified if joined to a creature, or unless the Son were very God; nor had man been brought into the Father’s presence, unless He had been His natural and true Word who had put on the body. And as we had not been delivered from sin and the curse, unless it had been by nature human flesh, which the Word put on (for we should have had nothing common with what was foreign), so also the man had not been deified, unless the Word who became flesh had been by nature from the Father and true and proper to Him. For therefore the union was of this kind, that He might unite what is man by nature to Him who is in the nature of the Godhead, and his salvation and deification might be sure. Therefore let those who deny that the Son is from the Father by nature and proper to His Essence, deny also that He took true human flesh480 of Mary Ever-Virgin481 ; for in neither case had it been of profit to us men, whether the Word were not true and naturally Son of God, or the flesh not true which He assumed. But surely He took true flesh, though Valentinus rave; yea the Word was by nature Very God, though Ariomaniacs rave482 ; and in that flesh has come to pass the beginning483 of our new creation, He being created man for our sake, and having made for us that new way, as has been said.
71. The Word then is neither creature nor work; for creature, thing made, work, are all one; and were He creature and thing made, He would also be work. Accordingly He has not said, ‘He created Me a work,’ nor ‘He made Me with the works,’ lest He should appear to be in nature and essence484 a creature; nor, ‘He created Me to make works,’ lest, on the other hand, according to the perverseness of the irreligious, He should seem as an instrument485 made for our sake. Nor again has He declared, ‘He created Me before the works,’ lest, as He really is before all, as an Offspring, so, if created also before the works, He should give ‘Offspring’ and ‘He created’ the same meaning. But He has said with exact discrimination486 , ‘for the works;’ as much as to say, ‘The Father has made Me, into flesh, that I might be man,’ which again shews that He is not a work but an offspring. For as he who comes into a house, is not part of the house, but is other than the house, so He who is created for the works, must be by nature other than the works. But if otherwise, as you hold, O Arians, the Word of God be a work, by what487 Hand and Wisdom did He Himself come into being? for all things that came to be, came by the Hand and Wisdom of God, who Himself says, ‘My hand hath made all these things488 ;’ and David says in the Psalm, ‘And Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Thy hands489 ;’ and again, in the hundred and forty-second Psalm, ‘I do remember the time past, I muse upon all Thy works, yea I exercise myself in the works of Thy hands490 .’ Therefore if by the Hand of God the works are wrought, and it is written that ‘all things were made through the Word,’ and ‘without Him was not made one thing491 ,’ and again, ‘One Lord Jesus, through whom are all things492 ,’ and ‘in Him all things consist493 ,’ it is very plain that the Son cannot be a work, but He is the Hand494 of God and the Wisdom. This knowing, the martyrs in Babylon, Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, arraign the Arian irreligion. For when they say, ‘O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord,’ they recount things in heaven, things on earth, and the whole creation, as works; but the Son they name not. For they say not, ‘Bless, O Word, and praise, O Wisdom;’ to shew that all other things are both praising and are works; but the Word is not a work nor of those that praise, but is praised with the Father and worshipped and confessed as God495 , being His Word and Wisdom, and of the works the Framer. This too the Spirit has declared in the Psalms with a most apposite distinction, ‘the Word of the Lord is true, and all His works are faithful496 ;’ as in another Psalm too He says, ‘O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! in Wisdom hast Thou made them all497 .’
72. But if the Word were a work, then certainly He as others had been made in Wisdom; nor would Scripture distinguish Him from the works, nor while it named them works, preach Him as Word and own Wisdom of God. But, as it is, distinguishing Him from the works, He shews that Wisdom is Framer of the works, and not a work. This distinction Paul also observes, writing to the Hebrews, ‘The Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, reaching even to the dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, neither is there any creature hidden before Him, but all things are naked and open unto the eyes of Him with whom is our account498 .’ For behold he calls things originate ‘creature;’ but the Son he recognises as the Word of God, as if He were other than the creatures. And again saying, ‘All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom is our account,’ he signifies that He is other than all of them. For hence it is that He judges, but each of all things originate is bound to give account to Him. And so also, when the whole creation is groaning together with us in order to be set free from the bondage of corruption, the Son is thereby shewn to be other than the creatures. For if He were creature, He too would be one of those who groan, and would need one who should bring adoption and deliverance to Himself as well as others. But if the whole creation groans together, for the sake of freedom from the bondage of corruption, whereas the Son is not of those that groan nor of those who need freedom, but He it is who gives sonship and freedom to all, saying to the Jews of His time499 , ‘The servant remains not in the house for ever, but the Son remaineth for ever; if then the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed500 ;’ it is clearer than the light from these considerations also, that the Word of God is not a creature but true Son, and by nature genuine, of the Father. Concerning then ‘The Lord hath created me a beginning of the ways,’ this is sufficient, as I think, though in few words, to afford matter to the learned to frame more ample refutations of the Arian heresy.