Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

Eunomius: First Apology

Eunomius : The First Apology

Translated by William Whiston (1711)



Against which, BASIL the Great wrote his Confutation.

I. To calumniate and abuse any one, is the Employment of an ungovern'd Tongue, and of an ill Temper of Mind: 'tis indeed the business of troublesome Persons, and of those who are skill'd in nothing so much as in Strife and Enmity. But to endeavour, with all chearfulness, to shew the Falshood of those Lyes, in those that are themselves misrepresented as Impious by such Calumnies, 'tis a part of Prudence, that they may shew their own sincere Inclinations; and that they esteem. the Safety of the multitude of Christians as a thing of mighty consequence. We could |2  wish therefore, as not being ignorant of either of those Cases, not to be Partakers with the former sort; nor indeed to have any occasion to act the part of the latter. But since the Success of things has not answer'd our Wishes, and we have after various manners, and in several instances, endur'd ill-grounded Censures and Indignities, both in Words and Actions, from many Persons; which things are grievous to us, and of mischievous consequence to the Faithful : and since this has been done by such as are themselves wicked, and care not what they either say or do; and others, who are weak and simple, do measure the Truth by the Calumnies of the many, and not by exact Justice; and do not examine with Judgment the Truth of the Accusations brought against us; We have thought fit to make a Profession of our own Faith in writing before you, both on our own account, by way of Apology; and to make others more cautious as to those things that are said without any examination against us. If perhaps by this means we may overcome that reproachful Character which is already spread abroad, and may make ill Men less daring, and those that are too light and foolish more careful how they believe, hereafter : and may thereby at once shew the Weakness of those that spread the Lyes, and the Incautiousness of those that believe them : while this Course will at the same time demonstrate the truth of what we say, and what Punishment will ensue to both those sorts of Persons. For the being joint Partners in the propagation of Lyes, will bring down a common Punishment upon both of them. |3 

II. Now above all things we beg of you, both you who shall hear what we say at prefent, and you who shall afterward light upon this Apology, not to think of measuring Truth and Falshood by multitudes, as reckoning that Truth which has the greater number on its side; nor so far to be influenc'd by the worldly Dignities of some, or the Haughtiness of others, as to suffer your Minds to be blinded; nor indeed to be so prejudic'd by what you have first heard, as to stop your ears against an After-examination: But to prefer the Doctrine of our Saviour Jesus Christ before the regard to any number of Men, to Ambition, the Love of Disputation, nay to Custom, and Relation; in short, to all things whatsoever that are wont to darken the Faculties of the Soul; and so to pass sentence upon what shall be said, with a Mind only dispos'd to embrace Truth. For a peculiar Alliance of the Mind to Truth, is of the greatest consequence towards the discovery of it. 

III. We must farther desire of you not to be displeas'd at us, if we have no regard to the Pride or Terror of any, nor to that Favour, or Security which the present World might afford; but ever prefer that Tranquillity which arifes from the Hopes of a future World; and still look upon those Threatnings which are made against the wicked, as more to be dreaded than temporal Death; and in consequence hereof publish the plain Truth. For, as the Apostle says, The Sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the Glory which shall be revealed.2 Nor is the whole World, tho we were sure of its Enjoyments and Dominion, capable to compensate the |4 loss of one's own Soul: The future things vastly exceeding those that are prefent on each side; both as to enjoying Happiness, and as to suffering Punishment. 

IV. But that we may not be too tedious in this Preface, and prolong our Discourse beyond measure, let us now come directly to the Profession of our Faith; whereby those that have a mind may most easily and readily understand our Opinion. For it is necessary that those who are to discourse of these things, and to undergo an Examination of their proper Doctrines, do not give up themselves at random to the Opinion of the many, but that they have in their view all the way that Sacred Tradition which has obtain'd originally from our forefathers, as a sort of Rule and Guide; and to permit Men to make use of that as an exact Standard in the distinguishing and judging of those things that are to be said.

V. "We believe in One God the Father Almighty, of whom are all things. 
And in One only-begotten Son of God, God the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things. 
And in One Holy Spirit the Comforter, by whom the Distribution of all Grace is bestow'd on every one of the Saints, according to their proportion, to profit withal."

VI. This is the most simple Creed, and common to all who either are careful to appear, or to be Christians; as being an Abridgment, or as it were an extempore Summary only; omitting, at present the additional Articles which have been controverted, and thinking it |5 superfluous to make mention of them. As to our selves, if we could perceive that those who once had received the Words, did necessarily preserve together with those words the true and invariable Sense contain'd under them; or if we perceiv'd that those who accuse us of Impiety would upon this Profession of our Faith presently free us from their Accusations, and let all sinister Suspicions against us go out of their minds, we would take this Creed for the Measure and Standard of our own Discourse: that this Profession of our Faith might procure us Peace and Security. For indeed neither was Sabellius of Libya, nor Marcellus of Galatia, nor Photinus, nor any other of those that proceeded to the like degree of Madness with them, excluded from the Sacred Assemblies, or the Participation of the Mysteries, or the peculiar places appointed for Ecclesiastical Persons. But because neither is this short Profession sufficient for the Settlement of the Truth, nor sutable to our purpose, to silence the Accusations brought against us, but some more accurate Explications will be necessary, in order to the plain and full Declaration of our Mind ; and because, out of an ill Temper, or some other disorder of Disposition, several do endeavour to misrepresent and corrupt the true Sense of the words; We shall make it our business, as well as we are able, to explain distinctly what Notions we have of these matters; by first setting down our Faith, and then explaining its meaning afterwards: or suting the words to the Sense which lies before us; but so that this Change shall no ways be to the prejudice of the Truth, And indeed this method will |6 be peculiarly sutable to our purpose, both as we write an Apology for our selves, and a Confutation of our Adversaries. 

VII. Therefore, We own, according to natural Sense, and according to the Doctrine of our Forefathers, One God, not made either by himself, or by another; for both those things are equally impossible: for most certainly the Maker must exist before that which is produc'd, and that which is made must be after that which made it , nor can any thing be sooner or later than it self; nor can any thing be before God. For certainly that which is before the other, would then have had the Dignity of the Godhead. For he that affirms it possible for a real Being to be made by another, must allow that it self is one of them; and that it will justly be rank'd among them. Wherefore, if it be demonstrated that neither could God be before himself, nor could any thing else be before him, but that he is before all things, it thence follows that he is the Unbegotten, or rather, he is himself the Unbegotten Substance. It may indeed probably seem needless and superfluous to some to prove those things, as if they were doubtful, which are commonly taken for granted. However, it seems proper for us, on account of those that look on it as a piece of wisdom to oppose the plainest things, as well as of those that may otherwise take a handle for Complaint and Calumny, to treat more accurately of these matters. 

VIII. Now when we own God to be Unbegotten, we think we ought not to do it by using that word only in our Worship, after a vulgar acceptation, but to pay in reality that Debt to God which is of all other the |7 most justly due, that is, the acknowledging him to be what he really is. For those Ideas which are in the Mind only, and the Words belonging to them having no real existence elsewhere, as distinct from those Names whereby we express them, are dissolv'd and vanish when we forbear to speak of them. But God, whether we are silent, or speak, and while things come into being, and before all things were made, both was, and is Unbegotten.

But then he is not such by way of Privation, seeing Privations belong to the nature of things already in being, and after the Habits to which they belong. But according to the Course of Nature, there could be no Generation as to God, nor had he therefore a Generation formerly, which when he was depriv'd of, he was stil'd, Without Generation, or Unbegotten: since this would be great Impiety, and destructive of the true Notion of God, and of his absolute Perfection. Indeed to pretend that God has been deprived of somewhat naturally belonging to him, would be a Demonstration of the Madness of the Inventors of such an Opinion. And no wise Man can say that any Being is depriv'd of such things as did not before exist. If therefore the Character of Unbegotten is not a bare Imagination, nor us'd by way of Privation, as the last reasoning has shew'd: Nor is this Character of Unbegotten apply'd to God in part only; for he is without Parts. Nor is it apply'd to him as allowing somewhat different from him, within him, that is Unbegotten; for he is simple, and uncompounded, nor is any [internal] thing different from him beside him, for he is |8 One and alone: he must himself be the Unbegotten Substance. 

IX. Since therefore, according to the foregoing Demonstration, he is Unbegotten, he cannot so admit of any Generation from him, as to communicate his own proper Nature to any Being that is made,; and must be far remov'd from all Comparison, and Fellowship, with what is made. For if any one would determine that he has somewhat common with another, or does communicate to any one his own Substance, it must be either by Division and Separation, or by Coalition. But whether of these two ways be asserted, the Notion will be intangled with many Absurdities, or rather so many Blasphemies. For whether it be by Division and Separation, he must be no longer the Unbegotten; being now by this Division become what he was not before : nor indeed Incorruptible, while this Division is destructive of that Perfection of Incarnation. Or whether it be by that Coalition which he admits with another, this Coalition depending on that wherein they both partake, the Character of Substance must be common to them both: and if so, the Name also must be common; [and each be call'd the Unbegotten Substance.] So that they must be forc'd by this reasoning either to keep the Name incommunicable, as being willing that the Character of Unbegotten Substance mould be also esteem'd incommunicable; or else if they attempt to allow the Communication of the Substance, together with that, will they be forc'd to own the Name to be common also. For the desire of aggrandizing both will be defective, if they give but one part to the one, while the other enjoys |9 both; nor will they vouchsafe to explain the reason of such difference; nay, are more nice as to the word than as to the thing it self. ---- But if they own one to be greater and the other less, seeing we have prov'd that when a thing is granted, the word ought to be granted also; let them use the word Unequal: but if they deny that, let them not fear to use the word Equal in this case; as not finding to which the Supereminence is to be ascrib'd. 

X. For they cannot pretend to say the Substance is common to both, but as to Order, and the Prerogative of greater antiquity in point of time, the one is first and the other second: since we acknowledge in all things that have any Prerogative, the Cause of that Prerogative. Now neither Time, nor Age, nor Order have any connexion with the Substance of God. For Order is posterior to him that orders: But nothing that belongs to God is order'd by another Being. And Time is a certain motion of the Stars; and the Stars were later, not only than the Unbegotten Substance, and all intelligent Natures, but than the Elements or primary Bodies also. And as to the Ages, what occasion is there for any farther reasoning? when the Scripture plainly affirms that God existed before the Ages; and the common Motions of Mankind do attest the same Truth also. For 'tis not only impious, but exceeding ridiculous for those who admit of but one Unbegotten Being, to affirm that somewhat else exists either before him, or together with him. For if any Being, existed before him, that Being has a just Title to this Character of Onbegotten and not the second. If it existed |10 only together with him, by this Communion between these, so as to coexist together, both the Unity of God, and the Character of Unbegotten will be taken away. But for those who, together with the Communication of the Substance, do introduce a certain Partition and Boundary on both sides, they must suppose a mutual Agreement, nay and besides an Author of that Agreement. 

XI. Now 'tis plainly impossible that any things should have place in the Essence of God, of such a Nature as Species, or Magnitude, or Quantity; because on all accounts God, must be free from all Composition. But now, if it can never be agreeable to Piety, to suppose these or any the like Circumstances connected with the Substance of God, how can Reason admit us to equal a Begotten Substance to that which is Unbegotten? seeing that all Likeness, or Comparifon, or Communication of Substance leaves no Supereminence, or Difference, but implies a plain Equality; and by that Equality declares him that is so intire like the other, to be equally Unbegotten also. But no one is so mad and daring in his Impiety, as to assert that the Son is Equal to the Father, when the Lord himself expressly says, The Father, who sent me, is Greater than I:3 or to apply both of the Names at random, while each claims the Appropriation, nor does admit the Communication thereof to the other. For if either Person be Unbegotten, he is not a Son; and if he be a Son, he is not Unbegotten. But that there is only one God of the Universe Unbegotten, and beyond all comparison, besides the many Arguments omitted here, what we have said already upon that Subject does sufficiently demonstrate.

XII. And there is but |11 one Son, for he is the Only begotten, concerning which it were easy, by adding the Testimonies of Holy Men who have stil'd the Son a Being Begotten, and a Being Made, and by such a difference in their Expressions declaring the difference of their Substances, to prevent the occasion of any farther care and trouble. However, on account of such as suppose this to be like the Generation of Bodies, and so stumble at the Ambiguity of words, it will be necessary, I suppose, to speak briefly to this matter.

We therefore affirm the Son to be a Being Begotten, according to the Doctrine of the Scriptures; not imagining him one thing as to his Substance, and yet another thing to be describ'd by the Words apply'd to him; but that he is the very same subsisting Being which the name signifies, the Appellation rightly expressing the Substance; and that this subsisting Being was produc'd when he was not before his own proper Production, but that he was begotten before all things, by the Will of God and the Father. 

XIII. But if this Expression seem over-bold to any one, let him consider with himself whether it be True or False: for if the former, the Boldness is without blame, according to his own determination; since nothing that is true, if it be spoken in due time, and within due bounds, can be culpable: but if it be False, 'tis absolately necessary that the opposite Doctrine must be esteem'd true, that is, that the Son, who was in being before, was begotten; which does not only exceed all Absurdity or Blasphemy, but all the most foolish and ridiculous Opinions possible. For what occasion for |12 Generation to a Being that exists already? unless it be chang'd into another Being , according to the nature of both living and lifeless things, which any one may truly say to have that Being which already exists, but not to have that Being into which they are made: For Seed is not a Man, nor are Stones an House; the former of which is made a Man, the latter an House. Now if in every one of these Examples, to which 'tis the greatest Instance of Piety to compare the Generation of the Son, those things only are made which were not before, what Medicine must he require who affirms that the Son, when he was before, was produc'd notwithstanding? For if he were before his Generation, he was without Generation, or Unbegotten; XIV. whereas it has all along been fairly acknowledg'd, that there is no other Unbegotten Being but God. Either therefore let them leave off this Profession, when they introduce another Unbegotten Being ; or while they persist in the same, let them not pretend that the Son was produc'd, tho he existed before; since the Character of Son, and of a Being Begotten, will not admit that of an Unbegotten Substance. For by this means all imaginable Confusion of Names and of Things will arise, while there is but one Substance which is, and which is call'd Unbegotten; and yet in the same breath is there introduc'd another: And after all, this other Being is nam'd a Begotten Substance, and is call'd a Son, tho Unbegotten, according to the same Person's Notion; and the other has the name of Father given him, without his begetting a Son, if the other indeed be Unbegotten. |13 

But perhaps some body, aiming to cure one Malady with another, a lesser with a greater, according to the Proverb, will suppose a Generation by Augmentation or Mutation. This is to add one perverse reasoning to all the former, as not being sensible even of this plain Case, that if there be any Augmentation, it must be by the addition of somewhat else. Whence therefore is this Addition, but from some foreign Matter ? But if so, it will be absolutely necessary to suppose many Beings, many Unbegotten Beings, to supply the Defect of one alone. But if the Augmentation be made out of nothing, which is the more rational Supposition, to confess that every thing, was made when it was not in being before, by the Will of him that produc'd it; than to say any Substance is a Composition made, partly out of what was in being, partly out of what was not in being; they must admit of a Mutation, when there is nothing to which that Mutation could be made; and when by consequence of necessity, the Mutation must be made into that which is not. And how can it be other than foolish, not to say impious, to affirm, that what has a Being is chang'd into that which has none ? Indeed it will become us to leave off this prodigious Folly, or Madness rather, and to keep our selves to the words of Truth and Soberness. 

XV. But these Men, who are liable themselves, tho unwittingly, to these and many more Absurdities, do not with Justice lay the Charge of Boldness upon us, but in reality bring that of Impiety upon themselves. For our parts, we persist in what has been antiently demonstrated by Holy Persons, and now by our selves; in |14 affirming, that since neither the Substance of God admits of Generation [as being Unbegotten; nor of Separation or Division, as being Incorruptible;] nor is there any other Substratum for the Generation of the Son: therefore the Son, when he was not before, was begotten. Not thereby intending that the Substance of the Only-begotten was in common the same with that of those Beings which were made out of nothing; seeing what is not, cannot be any sort of substance. But we determine, that the difference of all Substances depends on the Will of him that made them ; and accordingly we do ascribe such Supereminence of Substance to the Son, as 'tis necessary to suppose the Creator to be possess'd of above that of his own Creatures. For we acknowledg, according to the blessed Apostle John, that all things were begotten by him,4 that Power of Creation being begotten together with him; whence he is the Only-begotten God to all Beings that are inferior to him, and that were made by him. For he alone was begotten and created by the Power of the Unbegotten God, and so became the most perfect of the subordinate Beings, and subservient for the Creation of all the rest, and for the performance of his Father's Will. 

XVI. But now if, because of the names Father and Son, we must be oblig'd to suppose a kind of human and corporeal Generation; and from that Method of Generation among Men, must introduce God as subject to the Imputations and Affections of a Change in his Substance, We must also, according to the erroneous Opinion of the Greeks, because God is a Creator, introduce Matter for the Production of the Creatures. |15 For Man, who begets out of his own Substance, if he were to create, could not do it without Matter. But if they reject that Hypothesis, without regarding the strict use of Words which are imploy'd to express our meaning, because they must take care to ascribe none but worthy Notions to God; and so allow that he creates by his Power alone : how can it be necessary to think of the Affection of a Change of Substance in God, on account that he is stil'd a Father? For what Man of good Sense is there, but acknowledges that the names of some things do only agree in pronunciation and expression, but not at all in signification? as when an Eye is spoken of Man, and when it is apply'd to God: Of Man it denotes one distinct Member; but of God it denotes, sometimes his Help and Preservation afforded to the Righteous; and sometimes the Knowledg of the Actions of Men. 

XVII. As on the other hand, many words, which are different in pronunciation, have still the same signification; as He that Is; and the Only True God.

Wherefore when God is stil'd a Father, we ought not to suppose the same Operation or Efficacy which that word implies among Men; as if in both Cases it equally included some Emanation, or the like Affection; since the one is without all such Affections, and the other with them. Nor when he is said to be a Spirit, is he to be suppos'd to have the same nature with other Spirits. Accordingly should we in all things observe the like Equity and Proportion, and not as soon as we hear the name of Son apply'd to Christ, to be displeas'd at the name of a Made Being; as if the Substance were immediately to be suppos'd |16 common, because of this Community of the name. For he is a Being, begotten and made by a Being, which was itself unbegotten and unmade; while Men and Angels, and whatsoever Creature there is beside, are Beings made by that Being which was it self made, and produc'd by him at the Command of the Father. For by this means we shall preserve the sacred Truth of the Scriptures, which affirm, that the Son is a Being made,5 and produc'd by God; and we shall not go astray from sober Reasoning, as neither being forc'd to ascribe Parts to God, nor lay his own Substance as a Substratum for Generation, nor Matter for Creation, from which direst Notions the difference of these Names has arisen. 

XVIII. How if God, when he begets, does not communicate his own Substance to the Being that is begotten, according as happens among Men, for he is Unbegotten; and when he creates, he does not stand in need of any Matter, since he stands in need of nothing, and is powerful; the rejection of the word Creation is on all accounts unreasonable.

Now since from these and the like Arguments we have shewn, that we must neither attempt universally to think that the signification of Words is exactly agreeable to the Words themselves, nor to change that Agreement at random, but must attend to the Subjects we are upon; we must sute Words and their Signification together, with regard to that Agreement respectively: for the nature of things is not a Consequent of Words, but the Force of Words is, according to their respective kinds, to be suted to the nature of things. One may therefore very justly |17 complain of those, who believing that the Son is a Being Begotten, and a Being Made, and are also persuaded that God is a Being Unbegotten, and a Being Unmade, do yet, by the addition of other words, and by saying that they are alike in Substance, contradict what they confess'd before; while they ought, if they had had the least regard to Truth, from that difference of Characters, to have own'd the difference of their Substances; because they could only by this means preserve the just Order of Things: that is, by accommodating to each severally a sutable Acknowledgment. But if they have no consideration of this Agreeableness in the nature of things, yet ought they at least to take care, that their own Words agree with their own Notions, and not allow themselves to ascribe intirely different Characters to the same Nature; for we have demonstrated, by all our foregoing Discourse, that those Characters are significative of the Substances themselves.

XIX. But now perhaps somebody that is heated in this matter may argue thus, in way of contradiction to our Reasoning: that if we must thus strictly adhere to the words made use of, and thence be led into the meaning of the things, as we pretend that Unbegotten and Begotten are so intirely different from one another; yet is it plain, that the names Light and Light, Life and Life, Power and Power, which are ascrib'd to both, are alike. To such an one's Question, we shall reply, not with the Argument of the Staff, instead of an Answer, according to the Saying of Diogenes: For the Philosophy of a Cynick is vastly remote from Christianity; but in imitation of the blessed |18 Apostle Paul, who says, that we ought to instruct those that oppose themselves with great Longsuffering.6 We answer then, that Light is either Unbegotten or Begotten; and we ask whether when. Light is spoken of an Unbegotten Being, and of a Being Begotten, it signifies differently, or has the very same signification? If the very same, 'tis plain, that that must be a compounded thing which consists of different things. Now what is compounded, is not Unbegotten : But if it has a different signification, then as much difference as there is between an Unbegotten and a Begotten Being, so much difference ought there to be suppos'd between Light and Light, Life and Life, Power and Power. For there is but one Rule and Method for the Resolution of all such Difficulties.

If therefore every Character of the Father, which concerns his Substance, be equivalent to that of Unbegotten, as to its proper signification, on account of his being free from Parts, and not compounded; and if the Case be the same as to the Only-begotten, that every Character must be equivalent to that of a Begotten Being, and yet they will still say these Characters may be convertible; who can further endure that they should use the word Likeness of Substance? or that they should determine one to have a Supereminence above the other as to Greatness, even tho all Consideration of Quantity, and, of Time, and the like Circumstances are set aside? and tho the Substance be, and is own'd to be simple and one? 

XX. And in the first place, they who presume to compare that Substance, which has no Superior, and is above all Cause, and free from all Laws, to that which is Begotten, and |19 is subservient to the Laws of its Father, seem either not at all to consider the nature of Things, or not to form their Judgments about them with an uncorrupt Mind. For there are plainly two ways cut out for the Discovery of the Truth in such Questions; the one of which is a priori, whereby we confider the Substances of things themselves, and by fair and clear Reasoning we determine about every one of them; the other of which is a posteriori, whereby we make the Enquiry from the Effects to the Cause, and so distinguish Substances by the Creatures they make, and by their Operations. Nor is it possible to perceive that either of these ways can discover this Likeness of Substance.

For in case any one takes the Rise of his Enquiries from the Substances themselves, and finds that One is superior to all Dominion, and above all Generation, and all Indigency; This will teach a Mind that comes with a sincere Desire after Truth, and oblige it to reject with the greatest Indignation, from the very Law and Rule of Nature, all Companion between them; and will give us to understand, that the Operation must be sutable and agreeable to the Dignity of the Substance. But in case he first regards the Creatures made, and thence goes back to the Substances, when he finds the Son to be the Being made by the Unbegotten Being, and the Comforter the Being made by the Only Begotten, and is satisfy'd of the difference of the Operations by the Supereminence of the Only Begotten; he will thence perceive an indisputable Demonstration of the Difference of their Substances. Not here to add a third Difference, |20 that be who creates by his own Power, must be vastly superiour to him that does it at the pleasure of his Father, and confesses that he does nothing of himself;7 and he that is ador'd, from him that adores.

XXI. If therefore they esteem it not at all absurd to ascribe all these things equally to both, as for instance, Substance, Energy, Power, and Name, as intending to take away all diftinction both as to Names and Things; let them plainly call them both Unbegotten Beings. But if this be a notorious piece of Impiety, let them not, under a colour, by using the word Likeness, hide that which is by all own'd for Impiety.

But lest we should seem to offer violence to the Truth by our own Fictions and Reasonings, as we are falsly accus'd to do; and that false Accusation is laid heavily to our charge by abundance of People : we will demonstrate what we aim at out of the Scriptures themselves.

There is but one God, who is declared both by the Law and the Prophets : and he is own'd by our Saviour himself to be the God of the Only begotten. For says he, I go unto my God and your God. The only True God, the only Wise, and only Good, and only Powerful Being, who only has Immortality.8 Nor let any one be diforder'd or disturb'd in his mind at this. For we do not use this Language in order to take away the Divinity of the Only-begotten, or his Wisdom, or his Immortality, or his Goodness, but in order to put a difference between things; and to own the supereminent Dignity of the Father. For we acknowledg the only-begotten God and our Lord Jesus, |21 to be Incorruptible, and Immortal, and Wise, and Good; but we affirm that the Father is the Cause of his intire Being;, and of every thing that he is; who himself has no cause of his own Substance, or of his Goodness; as being Unbegotten : the foregoing Premises affording us this Notion. 

XXII. If therefore he be the only True God, as being only Wise, and only Unbegotten, the Son is his Only Begotten, because he alone is a Being begotten by the Unbegotten Being: which yet he would not be alone, if the Nature was common to both, on account of their Likeness.

We ought therefore to lay aside the Notion of Likeness as to Substance, and to embrace that of the Likeness of a Son to the Father, in agreement with his own words; that is, so to reduce the intire Cause and Origin of all to the One and Only Being, that the Son may be esteem'd subject to his Father. We ought also exactly to purify our Notions about these matters, and not to esteem the manner of his Operation to be after the manner of Men; but with ease, and divine : and not to esteem his Operation to be any fort of division, or removal of his Substance; such as those cannot avoid who are led by the Sophistry of the Greeks, and connect the Energy to the Substance; and because they suppose the World to be coeval with God, fall into all sorts of Absurdities on that account. For those that allowed no Period to the World, no wonder that they assign'd to it no Beginning : nor would that cease or come to an end which was not deriv'd from a certain Beginning. 

XXIII. But as to these Greeks, which never looked on the difference of |22 things with clear eyes, nor can be equitable Arbitrators, let them not be concern'd in these matters: since the just Judgment of God has hidden the Truth from them, on account of the Pravity of their Dispositions.

But then, as to our selves, we do not think it safe, as we have said a little before, to connect the Operation with the Substance: since we judg of it by its Works, and know the Substance to be without beginning, simple, and without end: but the Operation not to be without beginning; for if it were, the Work it self would be without beginning also, as well as without end: since 'tis not possible for the Works to cease, and yet the Operation never to do so. For 'tis very childish, and the reasoning of a very weak Mind, to say the Operation is unbegotten, and without end: and while they suppose it the same with the Substance, yet to own that none of the Works can be made so as to be Unbegotten, or as to be without end. For one of these two things would hence follow, either that the Operation of God did not operate, or the Work must be Unbegotten ; but if both of those Hypotheses are without question absurd, what remains must be true ; that because the Works have a beginning, the Operation was not without beginning; and because they must cease, so must the Operation cease also.

Wherefore we ought not to acquiesce in the Opinions of the Greeks, taken up without examination; and so to connect the Operation with the Substance; but to esteem the will of God to be the truest Operation; which is most worthy of God, and sufficient |23 for the Being and Preservation of all things; as the words of the Prophet do also attest: For he hath done whatsoever he pleased. For he does not stand in need of any being for the Constitution of those things he is pleas'd to make: but at the same time that he wills, what he pleases is made.

XXIV. Wherefore if the Word of God demonstrates that his Will is his Operation, and not that his Substance is such; and that the Only-begotten subsisted by the Will of the Father; 'tis certainly necessary that the Son preserve this Likeness, not as to Substance, but as to Operation, which is also his Will. Whence also we ought to be persuaded to preserve that true Notion of his being his Father's Image, which the blessed Apostle Paul declar'd, when he said, Who is the Image of the Invisible God, the first-born of every Creature; for in him were all things created, both things in Heaven, and things on Earth, visible and invisible.9 For therefore is he call'd, The Image of God. Now these words, All things were created in him, together with the Appellation of the First-born, do not give us the Character of an Unbegotten Substance : for here is nothing about Substance, but about that Operation whereby he, as a Son, performs all things. The Expression of Image does not bear any resemblance to the Substance, but to that Operation which was hidden, without any Generation, in God's Foreknowledg, even before the Constitution of the Son, and of those things which were created in him. For who is there that knowing the Only-begotten himself, and considering that all things, were made by him,10 will not acknowledg that |24 he at once contemplates the whole Power of the Father ? To which the most blessed Apostle Paul has respect, when he does not say by him, but in him, altho he adds the Character of First-born: that when himself is also included, together with all the Beings made by him, he may make manifest to all that are able to comprehend the whole at one view, the Operation of the Father. We therefore call him the Image of the Father, not as comparing a Begotten Being with that which is Unbegotten; for that is certainly disagreeable, and in all Beings impossible; but as owning him the Only begotten, and First-born of the Father : the appellation of Son declaring the Substance, as does that of Father the Operation of him that begat him. But if any one out of the love of Contention, and as fixt in his own Opinions, will not apply his Mind to what has been said, but yet is forc'd to own that the Character of Father is significative of the Substance; let him attribute the like Character to the Son, to whom he has already attributed the like Substance. Or rather let him attribute both Characters to each of them; we mean the Character of Son to the Father, and that of Father to the Son. For the Similitude of Substance obliges those who are of that opinion to characterize them both by the same Appellations.


XXV. Having now spoken sufficiently concerning the Only-begotten, Order requires that we discourse next concerning the Comforter; not following the Opinions of the many, which are taken up without examination, but keeping |25 close to the Doctrine of Holy Men in all things. From whom, we have learn'd that he is the Third in Dignity and Order; and do therefore believe that he is the Third in Nature also: not changing the Dignity and Nature according to the political Changes among Men, no more than we can change their Order, so that their Substances shall be contrary to their Creation, but agreeably to the Rules of Harmony; that so the First in order may not be Second in nature; nor that which is First in nature, may have only the Second or Third place in order. Wherefore if the Order of Creation be the best Order in intelligent Beings, the Holy Spirit, which is the third as to Order, cannot be the first as to Nature: which is no other than God the Father. For is it not foolish and vain, that the same Being should sometime have the First, and at other times the Third place ? and in both of them to be ador'd according to his nature, as the Lord God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in Spirit and in Truth.11 Nor is he the fame with the Only-begotten; for then he would not have been enumerated after him, as having a Subsistence of his own. Our Saviour's words being here in the first place sufficient, whereby he said expressly that he should be sent afterward,12 for the instruction and teaching of the Apostles. Nor is he numerically different from God, and yet Unbegotten withal. For there is only One Unbegotten Being, from whom all things were made. Nor is he a Being different from the Son, and yet a Being begotten. For our Lord is but One; and the Only-begotten; by whom are all things,13 |26 as the Apostle says: but he is the third in Nature and Order, made by the Command of the Father, and by the Operation of the Son; and honour'd in the third place, as the first, and greatest, and indeed the only Being of this sort made by the Only-begotten: not endu'd with equal Power, Divinity, and the power of Creating, but endu'd with the compleat Power of Sanctification and Instruction. For as to those that believe the Comforter to be only a certain Energy of God, and yet do still enumerate him after the two real Substances, they seem so very foolish, and so Intirely remote from Truth, that one must have great leisure indeed to think it worth while to confute them. 

XXVI. But that we may not tire our Readers by the prolixity of our Discourse, we will contract the Sum of what has been said into a short compass, and say;

"That there is only One true God, the God of all things, Unbegotten, without Beginning, and beyond Compare; superior to all Cause, the Cause of Existence to all Beings that are: not creating the World in common with another Being, [or by communicating himself to another:] Not the first in Order only, not somewhat greater upon the comparison only, and a little superior to them all; but by way of Supereminence, beyond all compare, as to his Substance, his Power, and his Authority: One who before all things begat, and made the Only-begotten God, our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom all things were made; the Image and Representation of his own Power and Operation; who is himself not |27 to be compared with him that begat him, as to his Substance; nor to that Holy Spirit which was made by him: for he is inferior to the one, as a Being made by him; and superior to the other, as his Maker."

Now that Christ was made, Peter, who, as our Lord himself attests, had his Knowledg from God,14 is an authentick Witness, when he says, Let all the House of Israel know assuredly that God hath made him both Lord and Christ.15 And he that spake in the Person of the Lord, when he said, The Lord created me the Beginning of his ways.16 And he that said, There is one God, from whom are all things; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things.17 And the Blessed Apostle John, when he said, All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made.18 From whence it will follow, that either the Spirit is Unbegotten, which is a piece of Impiety: or if he were made, he must have been made by him. For we profess that the Son alone was made by the Father; subordinate both in Substance, and Will: and himself owns that he lives on account of the Father,19 and does nothing of himself.20 Nor do we acknowledg him consubstantial; for that denotes such a Generation as implies Division of the Substance. 

XXVII. For neither is the Father Begotten, nor the Son Unbegotten: but what he ever is, that is he truly call'd, a Begotten Being, an Obedient Son, a most perfect Minister, as subservient in the whole Creation to the Will of his Father, in order to the Constitution of things, and to their Preservation; and for the giving of Laws to Men, making use of the Comforter as his |28 Minister, for the dispensing of his Gifts, and exercise of his Providence; for Sanctification, for Instruction, and for the Confirmation of the Faithful: Who was himself in the last days born of the Virgin Mary, who convers'd holily, according to the Laws of God ; was crucify'd, and died, and rose again the third day, ascended into Heaven, will come again to judg the quick and the dead, by a righteous distribution to every one according to their Faith and Works; and is to reign for ever and ever. So that the supreme Dignity and Monarchy of God is ever to be preserv'd in all things: viz. that the Holy Spirit, with all the other Beings, be own'd subordinate to Christ; and the Son himself to God, even the Father; according to the Doctrine of the Blessed Apostle Paul, who says thus : For when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him; that God may be all in all.21

We have elsewhere with greater care, and more largely demonstrated these things, which we have here in brief included in this Profession of our Faith. And we beg of you of the present Age, and all others that are Partakers of the same Mysteries with us, not to fear the Censures of Men, nor to be impos'd on by their Sophisms, nor seduc'd by their Flattery; but to pass your judgment upon what has been offer'd according to Truth and Equity; as suffering the better part to prevail, and preserring Reason before Prejudice, so as to fly from all the Snares and Nets which the Devil contrives against Mankind; and thereby thinks to affright, or at least to |29 allure many of those who do not prefer what is really profitable before what is pleasant, nor esteem things future more secure than those that are present; that so the worser part may prevail over some of them. But may God avert any experience of this that I have said! tho there be many that conspire for Falshood, and are departed from the Truth; preserring the present Glory and Security before things pleasing to God and truly useful. May he preserve the Faith of my Followers unmoveable and firm to him, that delivered it to them:, while they wait for the Judgment-Seat of our Saviour Christ; where all Haughtiness, and Glory, and Falshood will intirely vanish; and those that are to be judg'd must stand naked of all their Authority and Attendance, and where Affluence and Riches, be they here never so highly esteem'd among Men, is utterly insufficient to put their Adversaries to shame. For a multitude of Men in all their splendor is not there equivalent to one poor and pious Person; or able to cause his rejection, where Truth it self is to approve him. It being agreeable to God's just Method of Retribution, that their Piety should plead for them at that day, who do now, on its account, esteem Death it self to be Gain; while Christ, the Disposer of the Rewards, did formerly and still does render to every Combatant the Prize according to his Desert : to those that undergo great Labours for the Truth, true Liberty, and the Kingdom of Heaven; but to those that have dishonour'd it, from the Wickedness of their own Minds, inevitable Punishments. And so much shall suffice on both |30 sides at present; and may all at last succeed for the best. 22

A Eunomian Confession of Faith appended to the manuscripts of the Apology.23

XXVIII. There is one God, unbegotten, and without beginning; having neither any one before him; for nothing can be before that which is unbegotten: nor with him; for the unbegotten God is One and Alone: nor in him; for he is a simple and uncompounded Being.  But as he is One and Alone, and always the same, he is the God |51 and the Creator, and the Maker of all things; principally, and in a peculiar manner of the only-begotten; yet properly of those things also which were made by him.  For he begat, and created, and made the Son alone before all things, and before the whole Creation, by his Power, and Energy, not communicating any thing of his own Substance to him that was begotten; for God is incorruptible, and inseparable, and indivisible: and an incorruptible Being does not communicate his own Substance; nor does he produce another which subsists in him; for he alone is unbegotten.  Now 'tis impossible that a Being should be begotten which has its Substance unbegotten.  He did not therefore make use of his Substance, but of his Will only; and he begat him, not by his own Substance, but as he pleased.  And by him did God make the Holy Spirit, the first and greatest of all the rest, by his own Authority |52 and Command; but by the Energy and Power of the Son.  And after him he made by his Son all the other Creatures which are in Heaven, and which are on Earth, both visible and invisible, both corporeal and incorporeal.  For there is one God, from whom are all things; according to the Apostle: And one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things.  There is therefore one unbegotten God, uncreated, not made; and one Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God, a Being begotten of him that is unbegotten; tho not like other beings that are begotten: a Being created by him that is uncreated; tho not like other created Beings; a Being made by him that was not made; tho not like other beings that were made: as it is said in the Holy Scriptures, The Lord created me the beginning of his ways, for his works; he founded me before the world began; and before all the Hills did he beget me.  And one Holy Spirit, the first and greatest of all the Works of the only-begotten, made indeed by the Command of the Father, but by the Energy and Power of the Son.

[The single footnote and the marginal notes have been assigned numbers and moved to the end.  I have added the chapter numbers from Vaggione's edition, creating a new paragraph for each where possible and when Whiston did not have one (most of them).  Scripture references are those from Whiston:-- I have omitted the copious references to the Apostolic Constitutions.  Please refer to the introduction for more information about this translation.]

1. * Note, In the MS, 'tis The Impious Eunomius.

2. Rom. 8. 18.

3. John 14. 28.

4. John 1. 3.

5. Prov. 8. 22; Acts 2. 36; Col. 1. 15; Rev. 3. 14.

6. 2 Tim. 2. 25.

7. John 5. 19.

8. John 20. 17; John 17. 3; 1 Tim. 1. 17; Matt. 19. 16, 17; 1 Tim. 6. 15, 16.

9. Col. 1.  15-16.

10. John 1. 3.

11. John 4. 24.

12. John 16. 16, 26.

13. Col. 1. 16.

14. Matt. 16. 17.

15. Acts 2. 36.

16. Prov. 8. 22.

17. 1 Cor. 8. 6.

18. John 1. 3.

19. John 6. 57.

20. John 5. 19.

21. 1 Cor. 15. 28.

22. Whiston ends vol. 1 of Primitive Christianity Revived (1711) here with the following note: "[See Eunomius's large Creed, here to be added, in my Account of the Primitive Faith at the end of all : and note Dr. Cave's Character of this Apologetick of Eunomius; Argute disputat Vafer Haeresiarcha; that therein the Sly Arch-Heretick reasons shrewdly.]"  Chapter 28 is to be found in vol. 4 of this work, on the indicated pages, and has been replaced above.

23. This subtitle copied from Vaggione's edition, by whom it was composed.

Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, 2002.  All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press SPIonic font, free from here.

Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts