Four discourses against the arians

Chapters VI-X
By Athanasius



Third proof of the Son's eternity, viz. from other titles indicative of
His coessentiality; as the Creator; One of the Blessed Trinity; as Wisdom; as
Word: as Image. If the Son is a perfect Image of the Father, why is He not a
Father also? because God, being perfect, is not the origin of a race. Only the
Father a Father because the Only Father, only the Son a Son because the Only
Son. Men are not really fathers and really sons, but shadows of the True. The
Son does not become a Father, because He has received from the Father to be
immutable and ever the same.

17. This is of itself a sufficient refutation of the Arian heresy;
however, its heterodoxy will appear also from the following:--If God be Maker
and Creator, and create His works through the Son, and we cannot regard things
which come to be, except as being through the Word, is it not blasphemous, God
being Maker, to say, that His Framing Word and His Wisdom once was not? it is
the same as saying, that God is not Maker, if He had not His proper Framing
Word which is from Him, but that that by which He frames, accrues to Him from
without[3], and is alien from Him, and unlike in essence. Next, let them tell
us this,--or rather learn from it how irreligious they are in saying, 'Once He
was not,' and, He was not before His generation;'--for if the Word is not with
the Father from everlasting, the Triad is not everlasting; but a Monad was
first, and afterwards by addition it became a Triad; and so as time went on,
it seems what we know concerning God grew and took shape[4]. And further, if
the Son is not proper offspring of the Father's essence, but of nothing has
come to be, then of nothing the Triad consists, and once there was not a
Triad, but a Monad; and a Triad once with deficiency, and then complete;
deficient, before the Son was originated, complete when He had come to be; and
henceforth a thing originated is reckoned with the Creator, and what once was
not has divine worship and glory with Him who was ever[5]. Nay, what is more
serious still, the Triad is discovered to he unlike Itself, consisting of
strange and alien natures and essences. And this, in other words, is saying,
that the Triad has an originated consistence. What sort of a religion then is
this, which is not even like itself, but is in process of completion as time
goes on, and is now not thus, and then again thus? For probably it will
receive some fresh accession, and so on without limit, since at first and at
starting it took its consistence by way of accessions. And so undoubtedly it
may decrease on the contrary, for what is added plainly admits of being

18. But this is not so: perish the thought; the Triad is not originated;
but there is an eternal and one Godhead in a Triad, and


there is one Glory of the Holy Triad. And you presume to divide it into
different natures; the Father being eternal, yet you say of the Word which is
seated by Him, 'Once He was not;' and, whereas the Son is seated by the
Father, yet you think to place Him far from Him. The Triad is Creator and
Framer, and you fear not to degrade It to things which are from nothing; you
scruple not to equal servile beings to the nobility of the Triad and to rank
the King, the Lord of Sabaoth with subjects[6]. Cease this confusion of things
unassociable, or rather of things which are not with Him who is. Such
statements do not glorify and honour the Lord, but the reverse; for he who
dishonours the Son, dishonours also the Father. For if the doctrine of God is
now perfect in a Triad, and this is the true and only Religion, and this is
the good and the truth, it must have been always so, unless the good and the
truth be something that came after, and the doctrine of God is completed by
additions. I say, it must have been eternally so; but if not eternally, not so
at present either, but at present so, as you suppose it was from the
beginning,--I mean, not a Triad now. But such heretics no Christian would
bear; it belongs to Greeks, to introduce an originated Triad, and to level It
with things originate: for these do admit of deficiencies and additions; but
the faith of Christians acknowledges the blessed Triad as unalterable and
perfect and ever what It was, neither adding to It what is more, nor imputing
to It any loss (for both ideas are irreligious), and therefore it dissociates
It from all things generated, and it guards as indivisible and worships the
unity of the Godhead Itself; and shuns the Arian blasphemies, and confesses
and acknowledges that the Son was ever; for He is eternal, as is the Father,
of whom He is the Eternal Word,--to which subject let us now return again.

19. If God be, and be called, the Fountain of wisdom and life--as He says
by Jeremiah, 'They have forsaken Me the Fountain of living waters[7];' and
again, 'A glorious high throne from the beginning, is the place of our
sanctuary; O Lord, the Hope of Israel, all that forsake Thee shall be ashamed,
and they that depart from Me shall be written in the earth, because they have
forsaken the Lord, the Fountain of living waters[8];' and in the book of
Baruch it is written, 'Thou hast forsaken the Fountain of wisdom[9],'--this
implies that life and wisdom are not foreign to the Essence of the Fountain,
but are proper to It, nor were at any time without existence, but were always.
Now the Son is all this, who says, 'I am the Life[10],' and, 'I Wisdom dwell
with prudence[11].' Is it not then irreligious to say, 'Once the Son was not?'
for it is all one with saying, 'Once the Fountain was dry, destitute of Life
and Wisdom.' But a fountain it would then cease to be; for what begetteth not
from itself, is not a fountain[1]. What a load of extravagance! for God
promises that those who do His will shall be as a fountain which the water
fails not, saying by Isaiah the prophet, 'And the Lord shall satisfy thy soul
in drought, and make thy bones fat; and thou shalt be like a watered garden,
and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not[2].' And yet these, whereas
God is called and is a Fountain of wisdom, dare to insult Him as barren and
void of His proper Wisdom. But their doctrine is false; truth witnessing that
God is the eternal Fountain of His proper Wisdom; and, if the Fountain be
eternal, the Wisdom also must needs be eternal. For in It were all things
made, as David says in the Psalm, 'In Wisdom bast Thou made them all[3];' and
Solomon says, 'The Lord by Wisdom hath formed the earth, by understanding hath
He established the heavens[4].' And this Wisdom is the Word, and by Him, as
John says, 'all things were made,' and 'without Him was made not one
things[5].' And this Word Christ; for 'there is One God, the Father, from whom
are all things, and we for Him; and One Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are
all things, and we through Him[6].' And if all things are through Him, He
Himself is not to be reckoned with that 'all' For he who dares[7] to call Him,
through whom are things, one of that 'all,' surely will have like speculations
concerning God, from whom are all. But if he shrinks from this as unseemly,
and excludes God from that all, it is but consistent that he should also
exclude from that all the Only-Begotten Son, as being proper to the Father's
essence. And, if He be not one of the all[8], it is sin to say concerning Him,
'He was not,' and 'He was not before His generation.' Such words may be used
of the creatures; but as to the Son, He is such as the Father is, of whose
essence He is proper Offspring, Word, and Wisdom[9]. For this is proper to the
Son, as regards the Father, and this shews that the Father is proper to the
Son; that we may neither say that God was ever without Word[10], nor that the


was non-existent. For wherefore a Son, if not from Him? or wherefore Word and
Wisdom, if not ever proper to Him?

20. When then was God without that which is proper to Him? or how can a
man consider that which is proper, as foreign and alien in essence? for other
things, according to the nature of things originate, are without likeness in
essence with the Maker; but are external to Him, made by the Word at His grace
and will, and thus admit of ceasing to be, if it so pleases Him who made
them[1]; for such is the nature of things originate[2]. But as to what is
proper to the Father's essence (for this we have already found to be the Son),
what daring is it in irreligion to say that 'This comes from nothing,' and
that 'It was not before generation,' but was adventitious[3], and can at some
time cease to be again? Let a person only dwell upon this thought, and he will
discern how the perfection and the plenitude of the Father's essence is
impaired by this heresy; however, he will see its unseemliness still more
clearly, if he considers that the Son is the Image and Radiance of the Father,
and Expression, and Truth. For if, when Light exists, there be withal its
Image, viz. Radiance, and, a Subsistence existing, there be of it the entire
Expression, and, a Father existing, there be His Truth (viz. the Son); let
them consider what depths of irreligion they fall into, who make time the
measure of the Image and Form of the Godhead. For if the Son was not before
His generation, Truth was not always in God, which it were a sin to say; for,
since the Father was, there was ever in Him the Truth, which is the Son, who
says, 'I am the Truth[4].' And the Subsistence existing, of course there was
forthwith its Expression and Image; for God's Image is not delineated from
without[5], but God Himself hath begotten it; in which seeing Himself, He has
delight, as the Son Himself says, 'I was His delight[6].' When then did the
Father not see Himself in His own Image? or when had He not delight, that a
man should dare to say, 'the Image is out of nothing,' and ' The Father had
not delight before the Image was originated?' and how should the Maker and
Creator see Himself in a created and originated essence? for such as is the
Father, such must be the Image.

21. Proceed we then to consider the attributes of the Father, and we shall
come to know whether this Image is really His. The Father is eternal,
immortal, powerful, light, King, Sovereign, God, Lord, Creator, and Maker.
These attributes must be in the Image, to make it true that he 'that hath seen
' the Son 'hath seen the Father[7].' If the Son be not all this, but, as the
Arians consider, originate, and not eternal, this is not a true Image of the
Father, unless indeed they give up shame, and go on to say, that the title of
Image, given to the Son, is not a token of a similar essence[8], but His
name[9] only. But this, on the other hand, O ye enemies of Christ, is not an
Image, nor is it an Expression. For what is the likeness of what is out of
nothing to Him who brought what was nothing into being? or how can that which
is not, be like Him that is, being short of Him in once not being, and in its
having its place among things originate? However, such the Arians wishing Him
to be, devised for themselves arguments such as this;--'If the Son is the
Father's offspring and Image, and is like in all things[10] to the Father,
then it neces-


sadly holds that as He is begotten, so He begets, and He too becomes father of
a son. And again, he who is begotten from Him, begets in his turn, and so on
without limit; for this is to make the Begotten like Him that begat Him.'
Authors of blasphemy, verily, are these foes of God! who, sooner than confess
that the Son is the Father's Image (1), conceive material and earthly ideas
concerning the Father Himself, ascribing to Him severings and (2) effluences
and influences. If then God be as man, let Him become also a parent as man, so
that His Son should be father of another, and so in succession one from
another, till the series they imagine grows into a multitude of gods. But if
God be not as man, as He is not, we must not impute to Him the attributes of
man. For brutes and men after a Creator has begun them, are begotten by
succession; and the son, having been begotten of a father who was a son,
becomes accordingly in his turn a father to a son, in inheriting from his
father that by which he himself has come to be. Hence in such instances there
is not, properly speaking, either father or son, nor do the father and the son
stay in their respective characters, for the son himself becomes a father,
being son of his father, but father of his son. But it is not so in the
Godhead; for not as man is God; for the Father is not from a father; therefore
doth He not beget one who shall become a father; nor is the Son from effluence
of the Father, nor is He begotten from a father that was begotten; therefore
neither is He begotten so as to beget. Thus it belongs to the Godhead alone,
that the Father is properly (3) father, and the Son properly son, and in Them,
and Them only, does it hold that the Father is ever Father and the Son ever

22. Therefore he who asks why the Son is not to beget a son, must inquire
why the Father had not a father. But both suppositions are unseemly and full
of impiety. For as the Father is ever Father and never could become Son, so
the Son is ever Son and never could become Father. For in this rather is He
shewn to be the Father's Expression and Image, remaining what He is and not
changing, but thus receiving from ,he Father to be one and the same. If then
the Father change, let the Image change; for so is the Image and Radiance in
its relation towards Him who begat It. But if the Father is unalterable, and
what He is that He continues, necessarily does the Image also continue what He
is, and will not alter. Now He is Son from the Father; therefore He will not
become other than is proper to the Fathers essence. Idly then have the foolish
ones devised this objection also, wishing to separate the Image from the
Father, that they might level the Son with things originated.



Whether, in the generation of the Son, God made One that was already, or One
that was not.

22 (continued). RANKING Him among these, according to the teaching of
Eusebius, and accounting Him such as the things which come into being through
Him, Arius and his fellows revolted from the truth, and used, when they
commenced this heresy, to go about with dishonest phrases which they had got
together; nay, up to this time some of thorn[1], when they fall in


with boys in the market-place, question them, not out of divine Scripture, but
thus, as if bursting with 'the abundance of their heart[2];'--'He who is, did
He make him who was not from that which was [not], or him who was? therefore
did He make the Son, whereas He was, or whereas He was not[3]?' And again, 'Is
the Unoriginate one or two?' and 'Has He free will, and vet does not alter at
His own choice, as being of an alterable nature? for He is not as a stone to
remain by Himself unmoveable.' Next they turn to silly women, and address them
in turn in this womanish language; 'Hadst thou a son before bearing? now, as
thou hadst not, so neither was the Son of God before His generation.' In such
language do the disgraceful men sport and revel, and liken God to men
pretending to be Christians, but changing God's glory' into an image made like
to corruptible man[4].'

23. Words so senseless and dull deserved no answer at all; however, lest
their heresy appear to have any foundation, it may be right, though we go out
of the way for it, to refute them even here, especially on account of the
silly women who are so readily deceived by them When they thus speak, they
should have inquired of an architect, whether he can build without materials;
and if he cannot, whether it follows that God could not make the universe
without materials[5]. Or they should have asked every man, whether he can be
without place and if he cannot, whether it follows that God is in place, that
so they may be brought to shame even by their audience. Or why is it that, on
hearing that God has a Son, they deny Him by the parallel of themselves;
whereas, if they hear that He creates and makes, no longer do they object
their human ideas? they ought in creation also to entertain the same, and to
supply God with materials, and so deny Him to be Creator, till they end in
grovelling with Manichees. But if the bare idea of God transcends such
thoughts, and, on very first hearing, a man believes and knows that He is in
being, not as we are, and yet in being as God, and creates not as man
creates, but yet creates as God, it is plain that He begets also not as men
beget, but begets as God. For God does not make man His pattern; but rather we
men, for that God is properly, and alone truly[7], Father of His Son, are also
called fathers of our own children; for of Him 'is every fatherhood in heaven
and earth named[7].' And their positions, while unscrutinized, have a shew of
sense; but if any one scrutinize them by reason, they will be found to incur
much derision and mockery.

24. For first of all, as to their first question, which is such as this,
how dull and vague it is! they do not explain who it is they ask about, so as
to allow of an answer, but they say abstractedly, 'He who is,' 'him who is
not.' Who then 'is,' and what 'are not,' O Arians? or who 'is,' and who 'is
not?' what are said 'to be,' what 'not to be?' for He that is, can make things
which are not, and which are, and which were before. For instance, carpenter,
and goldsmith, and potter, each, according to his own art, works upon
materials previously existing, making what vessels he pleases; and the God of
all Himself, having taken the dust of the earth existing and already brought
to be, fashions man; that very earth, however, whereas it was not once, He has
at one time made by His own Word. If then this is the meaning of their
question, the creature on the one hand plainly was not before its origination,
and then, on the other, work the existing material; and thus their reasoning
is inconsequent, since both 'what is' becomes, and 'what is not' becomes, as
these instances shew. But if they speak concerning God and His Word, let them
complete their question and then ask, Was the God, 'who is,' ever without
Reason? and, whereas He is Light, was He ray-less? or was He always Father of
the Word? Or again in this manner. Has the Father 'who is' made the Word 'who
is not,' or has He ever with Him His Word, as the proper offspring of His
substance? This will shew them that they do but presume and venture on
sophisms about God and Him who is from Him. Who indeed can bear to hear them
say that God was ever without Reason? this is what they fall into a second
time, though endeavouring in vain to escape it and to hide it with their
sophisms. Nay, one would fain not hear them disputing at all, that God was not


Father, but became so afterwards (which is necessary for their fantasy, that
His Word once was not), considering the number of the proofs already adduced
against them; while John besides says, 'The Word was[7a],' and Paul again
writes, 'Who being the brightness of His glory (8),' and, 'Who is over all,
God blessed for ever. Amen[9].'

25. They had best have been silent; but since it is otherwise, it remains
to meet their shameless question with a bold retort[1]. Perhaps on seeing the
counter absurdities which beset themselves, they may cease to fight against
the truth. After many prayers[2] then that God would be gracious to us, thus
we might ask them in turn; God who is, has He so become, whereas He was not?
or is He also before His coming into being? whereas He is, did He make
Himself, or is He of nothing, and being nothing before, did He suddenly appear
Himself? Unseemly is such an enquiry, both unseemly and very blasphemous, yet
parallel with theirs; for the answer they make abounds in irreligion. But if
it be blasphemous and utterly irreligious thus to inquire about God, it will
be blasphemous too to make the like inquiries about His Word. However, by way
of exposing a question so senseless and so dull, it is necessary to answer
thus:--whereas God is, He was eternally; since then the Father is ever, His
Radiance ever is, which is His Word. And again, God who is, hath from Himself
His Word who also is; and neither hath the Word been added, whereas He was not
before, nor was the Father once without Reason. For this assault upon the Son
makes the blasphemy recoil upon the Father; as if He devised for Himself a
Wisdom, and Word, and Son from without[3]; for whichever of these titles you
use, you denote the offspring from the Father, as has been said. So that this
their objection does not hold; and naturally; for denying the Logos they in
consequence ask questions which are illogical. As then if a person saw the
sun, and then inquired concerning its radiance, and said, 'Did that which is
make that which was, or that which was not,' he would be held not to reason
sensibly, but to be utterly mazed, because he fancied what is from the Light
to be external to it, and was raising questions, when and where and whether it
were made; in like manner, thus to speculate concerning the Son and the Father
and thus to inquire, is far greater madness, for it is to conceive of the Word
of the Father as external to Him, and to idly call the natural offspring a
work, with the avowal, 'He was not before His generation.' Nay, let them over
and above take this answer to their question;--The Father who was, made the
Son who was, for 'the Word was made flesh[4];' and, whereas He was Son of God,
He made Him in consummation of the ages also Son of Man, unless forsooth,
after the Samosatene, they affirm that He did not even exist at all, till He
became than.

26. This is sufficient from us in answer to their first question. And now
on your part, O Arians, remembering your own words, tell us whether He who was
needed one who was not for the framing of the universe, or one who was? You
said that He made for Himself His Son out of nothing, as an instrument whereby
to make the universe. Which then is superior, that which needs or that which
supplies the need? or does not each supply the deficiency of the other? You
rather prove the weakness of the Maker, if He had not power of Himself to make
the universe, but provided for Himself an instrument from without[5], as
carpenter might do or shipwright, unable to work anything without adze and
saw! Can anything be more irreligious? yet why should one dwell on its
heinousness, when enough has gone before to shew that their doctrine is a mere



Whether we may decide the question by the parallel of human sons, which are
born later than their parents. No, for the force of the analogy lies in the
idea of connaturality. Time is not involved in the idea of Son, but is
adventitious to it, and does not attach to God, because He is without parts
and passions. The titles Word and Wisdom guard our thoughts of Him and His Son
from this misconception. God not a Father, as a Creator, in posse from
eternity, because creation does not relate to the essence of God, as
generation does.

26. (continued). NOR is answer needful to their other very simple and
foolish inquiry, which they put to silly women; or none besides that which has
been already given, namely, that it is not suitable to measure divine
generation by the nature of men. However, that as before they may pass
judgment on themselves, it is well to meet them on the same ground,
thus:--Plainly, if they inquire of parents concerning their son, let them
consider whence is the child which is begotten. For, granting


the parent had not a son before his begetting, still, after having him, he had
him, not as external or as foreign, but as from himself, and proper to his
essence and his exact image, so that the former is beheld in the latter, and
the latter is contemplated in the former. If then they assume from human
examples that generation implies time, why not from the same infer that it
implies the Natural and the Proper[1], instead of extracting serpent-like from
the earth only what turns to poison? Those who ask of parents, and say, 'Had
you a son before you begot him?' should add, 'And if you had a son, did you
purchase him from without as a house or any other possession?' And then you
would be answered, 'He is not from without, but from myself. For things which
are from without are possessions, and pass from one to another; but my son is
from me, proper and similar to my essence, not become mine from another, but
begotten of me; wherefore I too am wholly in him, while I remain myself what I
am.' For so it is; though the parent be distinct in time, as being man,
who himself has come to be in time, yet he too would have had his child ever
coexistent with him, but that his nature was a restraint and made it
impossible. For Levi too was already in the loins of his great grandfather,
before his own actual generation, or that of his grandfather. When then the
man comes to that age at which nature supplies the power, immediately, with
nature, unrestrained, he becomes father of the son from himself.

27. Therefore, if on asking parents about children, they get for answer,
that children which are by nature are not from without, but from their
parents, let them confess in like manner concerning the Word of God, that He
is simply from the Father. And if they make a question of the time, let them
say what is to restrain God--for it is necessary to prove their irreligion on
the very ground on which their scoff is made--let them tell us, what is there
to restrain God from being always Father of the Son; for that what is begotten
must be from its father is undeniable. Moreover, they will pass judgment on
themselves in attributing[3] such things to God, if, as they questioned women
on the subject of time, so they inquire of the sun concerning its radiance.
and of the fountain concerning its issue. They will find that these, though an
offspring, always exist with those things from which they are. And if parents,
such as these, have in common with their children nature and duration, why, if
they suppose God inferior to things that come to be[4], do they not openly say
out their own irreligion? But if they do not dare to say this openly, and the
Son is confessed to be, not from without, but a natural offspring from the
Father, and that there is nothing which is a restraint to God for not as man
is He, but more than the sun, or rather the God of the sun), it follows that
the Word is from Him and is ever co-existent with Him, through whom also the
Father caused that all things which were not should be. That then the Son
comes not of nothing but is eternal and from the Father, is certain even from
the nature of the case; and the question of the heretics to parents exposes
their perverseness; for they confess the point of nature, and now have been
put to shame on the point of time.

28. As we said above, so now we repeat, that the divine generation must
not be compared to the nature of men, nor the Son considered to be part of
God, nor the generation to imply any passion whatever; God is not as man; for
men beget passibly, having a transitive nature, which waits for periods by
reason of its weakness. But with God this cannot be; for He is not composed of
parts, but being impassible and simple, He is impassibly and indivisibly
Father of the Son. This again is strongly evidenced and proved by divine
Scripture. For the Word of God is His Son, and the Son is the Father's Word
and Wisdom; and Word and Wisdom is neither creature nor part of Him whose Word
He is, nor an offspring passibly begotten. Uniting then the two titles,
Scripture speaks


of 'Son,' in order to herald the natural and true offspring of His essence;
and, on the other hand, that none may think of the Offspring humanly, while
signifying His essence, it also calls Him Word, Wisdom, and Radiance; to teach
us that the generation was impassible, and eternal, and worthy of Gods.[5]
What affection then, or what part of the Father is the Word and the Wisdom and
the Radiance? So much may be impressed even on these men of folly; for as they
asked women concerning God's Son, so[6] let them inquire of men concerning the
Word, and they will find that the word which they put forth is neither an
affection of them nor a part of their mind. But if such be the word of men,
who are passible and partitive, why speculate they about passions and parts in
the instance of the immaterial and indivisible God, that under pretence of
reverence[7] they may deny the true and natural generation of the Son? Enough
was said above to shew that the offspring from God is not an affection; and
now it has been shewn in particular that the Word is not begotten according to
affection. The same may be said of Wisdom; God is not as man; nor must they
here think humanly of Him. For, whereas men are capable of wisdom, God
partakes in nothing, but is Himself the Father of His own Wisdom, of which
whoso partake a given the name of wise. And this Wisdom too is not a passion,
nor a part, but an Offspring proper to the Father. Wherefore He is ever
Father, nor is the character of Father adventitious to God, lest He seem
alterable; for if it is good that He be Father but has not ever been Father,
then good has not ever been in Him.

29. But, observe, say they, God was always a Maker, nor is the power of
framing adventitous to Him; does it follow then, that, because He is the
Framer of all, therefore His works also are eternal, and is it wicked to say
of them too, that they were not before original;on? Senseless are these
Arians; for what likeness is there between Son and work, that they should
parallel a father's with a maker's function? How is it that, with that
difference between offspring and work, which has been shewn, they remain so
ill-instructed? Let it be repeated then, that a work is external to the
nature, but a son is the proper offspring of the essence; it follows that a
work need not have been always, for the workman frames it when he will; but an
offspring is not subject to will, but is proper to the essence[8]. And a man
may be and may be called Maker, though the works are not as yet; but father he
cannot be called, nor can he be, unless a son exist. And if they curiously
inquire why God, though always with the power to make, does not always make
(though this also be the presumption of madmen, for 'who hath known the mind
of the Lord, or who hath been His Counsellor?' or how 'shall the thing formed
say to' the potter, 'why didst thou make me thus[9]?' however, not to leave
even a weak argument unnoticed), they must be told, that although God always
had the power to make, yet the things originated had not the power of being
eternal[10]. For they are out of nothing, and therefore were not before their
origination; but things which were not before their origination, how could
these coexist with the ever-existing God? Wherefore God, looking to what was
good for them, then made them all when He saw that, when originated, they were
able to abide. And as, though He was able, even from the beginning in the time
of Adam, or Noah, or Moses, to send His own Word, yet He sent Him not until
the consummation of the ages (for this He saw to be good for the whole
creation), so also things originated did He make when He would, and as was
good for them. But the Son, not being


a work, but proper to the Father's offspring, always is; for, whereas the
Father always is, so what is proper to His essence must always be; and this is
His Word and His Wisdom. And that creatures should not be in existence, does
not disparage the Maker; for He hath the power of framing them, when He wills;
but For the offspring not to be ever with the Father, is a disparagement of
the perfection of His essence. Wherefore His works were framed, when He would,
through His Word; but the Son is ever the proper offspring of the Father's



Whether is the Unoriginate one or two? Inconsistent in Arians to use an
unscriptural word; necessary to define its meaning. Different senses of the
word. If it means 'without Father,' there is but One Unoriginate; if 'without
beginning or creation,' there are two. Inconsistency of Asterius.
'Unoriginate' a title of God, not in contrast with the Son, but with
creatures, as is 'Almighty,' or 'Lord of powers.' 'Father' is the truer title,
as not only Scriptural, but implying a Son, and our adoption as sons.

30. THESE considerations encourage the faithful, and distress the
heretical, perceiving, as they do, their heresy overthrown thereby. Moreover,
their further question, 'whether the Unoriginate be one or two[1],' shews how
false are their views, how treacherous and full of guile. Not for the Father's
honour ask they this, but for the dishonour of the Word. Accordingly, should
any one, not aware of their craft, answer, 'the Unoriginated is one,'
forthwith they spirit out their own venom, saying, 'Therefore the Son is among
things originated,' and well have we said, 'He was not before His generation.'
Titus they make any kind of disturbance and confusion, provided they can but
separate the Son from the Father, and reckon the Framer of all among His
works. Now first they may be convicted on this score, that, while blaming the
Nicene Bishops for their use of phrases not in Scripture, though these not
injurious, but subversive of their irreligion, they themselves went off upon
the same fault, that is, using words not in Scripture[2], and those in
contumely of the Lord, knowing 'neither what they say nor whereof they
affirm[3].' For instance, let them ask the Greeks, who have been their
instructors (for it is a word of their invention, not Scripture), and when
they have been instructed in its various significations, then they will
discover that they cannot even question properly, on the subject which they
have undertaken. For they have led me to ascertain[4] that by 'unoriginate' is
meant what has not yet come to be, but is possible to be, as wood which is not
yet become, but is capable of becoming, a vessel; and again what neither has
nor ever can come to be, as a triangle quadrangular, and an even number odd.
For a triangle neither has nor ever can become quadrangular; nor has even
ever, nor can ever, become odd. Moreover, by 'unoriginate' is meant, what
exists, but has not come into being from any, nor having a father at all.
Further, Asterius, the unprincipled sophist, the patron too of this heresy,
has added in his own treatise, that what is not made, but is ever, is
'unoriginate[5].' They ought then, when they ask the question, to add in what
sense they take the word 'unoriginate,' and then the parties questioned would
be able to answer to the point.

31. But if they still are satisfied with merely asking, 'Is the
Unoriginate one or two?' they must be told first of all, as ill-educated men,
that many are such and nothing is such, many, which are capable of
origination, and nothing, which is not capable, as has been said. But if they
ask according as Asterius ruled it, as if 'what is not a work but was always'
were unoriginate, then they must constantly be told that the Son as well as
the Father must in this sense be called unoriginate. For He is neither in the
number of things originated, nor a work, but has ever been with the Father, as
has already been shewn, in spite of their many variations for the sole sake of
speaking against the Lord,


He is of nothing' and 'He was not before His generation.' When then, after
failing at every turn, they betake themselves to the other sense of the
question, 'existing but not generated of any nor having a father,' we shall
tell them that the unoriginate in this sense is only one, namely the Father;
and they will gain nothing by their question[6]. For to say that God is in
this sense Unoriginate, does not shew that the Son is a thing originated, it
being evident from the above proofs that the Word is such as He is who begat
Him. Therefore if God be unoriginate, His Image is not originated, but an
Offspring, which is His Word and His Wisdom. For what likeness has the
originated to the unoriginate? (one must not weary of using repetition;) for
if they will have it that the one is like the other, so that he who sees the
one beholds the other, they are like to say that the Unoriginate is the image
of creatures; the end of which is a confusion of the whole subject, an
equalling of things originated with the Unoriginate, and a denial of the
Unoriginate by measuring Him with the works; and all to reduce the Son into
their number.

32. However, I suppose even they will be unwilling to proceed to such
lengths, if they follow Asterius the sophist. For he, earnest as he is in his
advocacy of the Arian heresy, and maintaining that the Unoriginate is one,
runs courtier to them in saying, that the Wisdom of God is unoriginate and
without beginning also. The following is a passage out of his works: 'The
Blessed Paul said not that he preached Christ the power of God or the wisdom
of God, but, without the article, 'God's power and God's wisdom[9];' thus
preaching that the proper power of God Himself, which is natural to Him and
co-existent with Him unoriginatedly, is something besides.' And again, soon
after: 'However, His eternal power and wisdom, which truth argues to be
without beginning and unoriginate; this must surely be one.' For though,
misunderstanding the Apostle's words, he considered that there were two
wisdoms; yet, by speaking still of a wisdom coexistent with Him, he declares
that the Unoriginate is not simply one, but that there is another Unoriginate
with Him. For what is coexistent, coexists not with itself, but with another.
If then they agree with Asterius, let them never ask again, Is the
Unoriginate one or two,' or they will have to contest the point with him; if,
on the other hand, they differ even from him, let them not rely upon his
treatise, lest, 'biting one another, they be consumed one of another[10].' So
much on the point of their ignorance; but who can say enough on their crafty
character? who but would justly hate them while possessed by such a madness?
for when they were no longer allowed to say 'out of nothing' and 'He was not
before His generation,' they hit upon this word 'unoriginate,' that, by saying
among the simple that the Son was 'originate,' they might imply the very same
phrases 'out of nothing,' and 'He once was not;' for in such phrases things
originated and creatures are implied.

33. if they have confidence in their own positions, they should stand to
them, and not change about so variously[1]; but this they will not, from an
idea that success is easy, if they do but shelter their heresy under colour of
the word 'unoriginate.' Yet after all, this term is not used in contract with
the Son, clamour as they may, but with things originated; and the like may be
found in the words 'Almighty,' and 'Lord of the Powers[2].' For if we say that
the Father has power and mastery over all things by the Word, and the Son
rules the Father's kingdom, and has the power of all, as His Word, and as the
Image of the Father, it is quite plain that neither here is the Son reckoned
among that all, nor is God called Almighty and Lord with reference to Him, but
to those things which through the Son come to be, and over which He exercises
power and mastery through the Word. And therefore the Unoriginate is specified
not by contrast to the Son, but to the things which through the Son come to
be. And excellently: since God is not as things originated, but is their
Creator and Framer through the Son. And as the word 'Unoriginate' is specified
relatively to things originated, so the word 'Father' is indicative of the
Son. And he who names God Maker and Framer and Un-originate, regards and
apprehends things created and made; and he who calls God Father, thereby
conceives and contemplates the Son. And hence one might marvel at the
obstinacy which is added to their irreligion, that, whereas the term
'unoriginate 'has the aforesaid good sense, and admits of being used
religiously[3], they, in their own heresy, bring it forth for the dishonour of
the Son, not having read that he who honoureth the Son honoureth the Father,


and he who dishonoureth the Son, dishonoureth the Father[4]. If they had any
concern at all[5] for reverent speaking and the honour due to the Father, it
became them rather, and this were better and higher, to acknowledge and call
God Father, than to give Him this name. For, in calling God unoriginate, they
are, as I said before, calling Him from His works, and as Maker only and
Framer, supposing that hence they may signify that the Word is a work after
their own pleasure. But that he who calls God Father, signifies Him from the
Son being well aware that if there be a Son, of necessity through that Son all
things originate were created. And they, when they call Him Unoriginate, name
Him only from His works, and know not the Son any more than the Greeks; but he
who calls God Father, names Him from the Word; and knowing the Word he
acknowledges Him to be Framer of all, and understands that through Him all
things have been made.

34. Therefore it is more pious and more accurate to signify God from the
Son and call Him Father, than to name Him from His works only and call Him
Unoriginate[6]. For the latter title, as I have said, does nettling more than
signify all the works, individually and collectively, which have come to be at
the will of God through the Word; but the title Father has its significance
and its bearing only from the Son. And, whereas the Word surpasses things
originated, by so much and more doth calling God Father surpass the calling
Him Un-originate. For the latter is unscriptural and suspicious, because it
has various senses; so that, when a man is asked concerning it, his mind is
carried about to many ideas; but the word Father is simple and scriptural, and
more accurate, and only implies the Son. And 'Unoriginate' is a word of the
Greeks, who know not the Son; but 'Father' has been acknowledged and
vouchsafed by our Lord. For He, knowing Himself whose Son He was, said, 'I am
in the Father, and the Father is in Me;' and, 'He that hath seen Me, hath seen
the Father,' and 'I and the Father are One[7];' but nowhere is He found to
call the Father Unoriginate. Moreover, when He teaches us to pray, He says
not, 'When ye pray, say, O God Unoriginate,' but rather, 'When ye pray, say,
Our Father, which art in heaven[8].' And it was His will that the Summary[9]
of our faith should have the same bearing, in bidding us be baptized, not into
the name of Unoriginate and originate, nor into the name of Creator and
creature, but into the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. For with such an
initiation we too, being numbered among works, are made sons, and using the
name of the Father, acknowledge from that name the Word also in the I Father
Himself[10]. A vain thing then is their argument about the term 'Unoriginate,'
as is now proved, and nothing more than a fantasy.



How the Word has free will, yet without being alterable. He is unalterable
because the Image of the Father, proved from texts.

35. As to their question whether the Word is alterable[1], it is
superfluous to examine it; it is enough simply to write down what they say,
and so to shew its daring irreligion. How they trifle, appears from the
following questions:--'Has He free will, or has He not? is He good from choice
according to free will, and can He, if He will, alter, being of an alterable
nature? or, as wood or stone, has He not His choice free to be moved and,
incline hither and thither?' It is but agreeable to their heresy thus to speak
and think; for, when once they have framed to themselves a God out of nothing
and a created Son, of course they also adopt such terms, as being suitable to
a creature. However, when in their controversies with Churchmen they hear from
them of the real and only Word of the Father, and yet venture thus to speak of
Him, does not their doctrine then become the most loathsome that can be found?
is it not enough to distract a man on mere hearing, though unable to reply,
and to make him stop his ears, from astonishment at the novelty of what he
hears them say, which even to mention is to blaspheme? For if the Word be
alterable and changing, where will He stay, and what will be the end of His
development? how shall the alterable possibly be like the Unalterable? How
should he who has seen the alterable, be considered to have seen the
Unalterable? At what state must He arrive, for us to be able to behold in Him
the Father? for it is plain


that not at all times shall we see the Father in the Son, because the Son is
ever altering, and is of changing nature. For the Father is unalterable and
unchangeable, and is always in the same state and the same; but if, as they
hold, the Son is alterable, and not always the same, but of an ever-changing
nature, how can such a one be the Father's Image, not having the likeness of
His unalterableness[2]? how can He be really in the Father, if His purpose is
indeterminate? Nay, perhaps, as being alterable, and advancing daily, He is
not perfect yet. But away with such madness of the Arians, and let the truth
shine out, and shew that they are foolish. For must not He be perfect who is
equal to God? and must not He be unalterable, who is one with the Father, and
His Son proper to His essence? and the Father's essence being unalterable,
unalterable must be also the proper Offspring from it. And if they
slanderously impute alteration to the Word, let them learn how much their own
reason is in peril for from the fruit is the tree known. For this is why he
who hath seen the Son hath seen the Father; and why the knowledge of the Son
is knowledge of the Father.

36. Therefore the Image of the unalterable God must be unchangeable; for
'Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever[3].' And David in
the Psalm says of Him, 'Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation
of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Thine hands. They shall perish,
but Thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment. And as a
vesture shall Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed, but Thou art the
same. and Thy years shall not fail[4].' And the Lord Himself says of Himself
through the Prophet, 'See now that I, even I am He,' and 'I change not[5].' It
may be said indeed that what is here signified relates to the Father; yet it
suits the Son also to say this, specially because, when made man, He manifests
His own identity and unalterableness to such as suppose that by reason of the
flesh He is changed and become other than He was. More trustworthy are the
saints, or rather the Lord, than the perversity of the irreligious. For
Scripture, as in the above-cited passage of the Psalter, signifying under the
name of heaven and earth, that the nature of all things originate and created
is alterable and changeable, yet excepting the Son from these, shews us
thereby that He is no wise a thing originate; nay teaches that He changes
everything else, and is Himself not changed, in saying, 'Thou art the same,
and Thy years shall not fail[6].' And with reason; for things originate, being
from nothing[7], and not being before their origination, because, in truth,
they come to be after not being, have a nature which is changeable; but the
Son, being from the Father, and proper to His essence, is unchangeable and
unalterable as the Father Himself. For it were sin to say that from that
essence which is unalterable was begotten an alterable word and a changeable
wisdom. For how is He longer the Word, if He be alterable? or can that be
Wisdom which is changeable? unless perhaps, as accident in essence[8], so they
would have it, viz. as in any particular essence, a certain grace and habit of
virtue exists accidentally, which is called Word and Son and Wisdom, and
admits of being taken from it and added to it. For they have often expressed
this sentiment, but it is not the faith of Christians; as not declaring that
He is truly Word and Son of God, or that the wisdom intended is true Wisdom.
For what alters and changes, and has no stay in one and the same condition,
how can that be true? whereas the Lord says, 'I am the Truth[9].' If then the
Lord Himself speaks thus concerning Himself, and declares His unalterableness,
and the Saints have learned and testify this, nay and our notions of God
acknowledge it as religious, whence did these men of irreligion draw this
novelty? From their heart as from a seat of corruption did they vomit it