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  • The Son by Being Designated Word and Wisdom, (According to the Imperfection of Human Thought and Language) Liable to Be Deemed a Mere Attribute. He is Shown to Be a Personal Being.

    Chapter VII.—The Son by Being Designated Word and Wisdom, (According to the Imperfection of Human Thought and Language) Liable to Be Deemed a Mere Attribute. He is Shown to Be a Personal Being.

    Then, therefore, does the Word also Himself assume His own form and glorious garb,7823

    7823 Ornatum.

    His own sound and vocal utterance, when God says, “Let there be light.”7824

    7824 Gen. i. 3.

    This is the perfect nativity of the Word, when He proceeds forth from Godformed7825

    7825 Conditus. [See Theophilus To Autolycus, cap. x. note 1, p. 98, Vol. II. of this series. Also Ibid. p. 103, note 5. On the whole subject, Bp. Bull, Defensio Fid. Nicænæ. Vol. V. pp. 585–592.]

    by Him first to devise and think out all things under the name of Wisdom—“The Lord created or formed7826

    7826 Condidit.

    me as the beginning of His ways;”7827

    7827 Prov. viii. 22.

    then afterward begotten, to carry all into effect—“When He prepared the heaven, I was present with Him.”7828

    7828 Ver. 27.

    Thus does He make Him equal to Him: for by proceeding from Himself He became His first-begotten Son, because begotten before all things;7829

    7829 Col. i. 15.

    and His only-begotten also, because alone begotten of God, in a way peculiar to Himself, from the womb of His own heart—even as the Father Himself testifies: “My heart,” says He, “hath emitted my most excellent Word.”7830

    7830 Ps. xlv. 1. See this reading, and its application, fully discussed in our note 5, p. 66, of the Anti-Marcion, Edin.

    The Father took pleasure evermore in Him, who equally rejoiced with a reciprocal gladness in the Father’s presence:  “Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten Thee;”7831

    7831 Ps. ii. 7.

    even before the morning star did I beget Thee. The Son likewise acknowledges the Father, speaking in His own person, under the name of Wisdom: “The Lord formed Me as the beginning of His ways, with a view to His own works; before all the hills did He beget Me.”7832

    7832 Prov. viii. 22; 25.

    For if indeed Wisdom in this passage seems to say that She was created by the Lord with a view to His works, and to accomplish His ways, yet proof is given in another Scripture that “all things were made by the Word, and without Him was there nothing made;”7833

    7833 John i. 3.

    as, again, in another place (it is said), “By His word were the heavens established, and all the powers thereof by His Spirit”7834

    7834 Ps. xxxiii. 6.

    —that is to say, by the Spirit (or Divine Nature) which was in the Word: thus is it evident that it is one and the same power which is in one place described under the name of Wisdom, and in another passage under the appellation of the Word, which was initiated for the works of God7835

    7835 Prov. viii. 22.

    which “strengthened the heavens;”7836

    7836 Ver. 28.

    “by which all things were made,”7837

    7837 John i. 3.

    “and without which nothing was made.”7838

    7838 John i. 3.

    Nor need we dwell any longer on this point, as if it were not the very Word Himself, who is spoken of under the name both of Wisdom and of Reason, and of the entire Divine Soul and Spirit. He became also the Son of God, and was begotten when He proceeded forth from Him.  Do you then, (you ask,) grant that the Word is a certain substance, constructed by the Spirit and the communication of Wisdom? Certainly I do. But you will not allow Him to be really a substantive being, by having a substance of His own; in such a way that He may be regarded as an objective thing and a person, and so be able (as being constituted second to God the Father,) to make two, the Father and the Son, God and the Word. For you will say, what is a word, but a voice and sound of the mouth, and (as the grammarians teach) air when struck against,7839

    7839 Offensus.

    intelligible to the ear, but for the rest a sort of void, empty, and incorporeal thing. I, on the contrary, contend that nothing empty and void could have come forth from God, seeing that it is not put forth from that which is empty and void; nor could that possibly be devoid of substance which has proceeded from so great a substance, and has produced such mighty substances: for all things which were made through Him, He Himself (personally) made. How could it be, that He Himself is nothing, without whom nothing was made? How could He who is empty have made things which are solid, and He who is void have made things which are full, and He who is incorporeal have made things which have body? For although a thing may sometimes be made different from him by whom it is made, yet nothing can be made by that which is a void and empty thing. Is that Word of God, then, a void and empty thing, which is called the Son, who Himself is designated God? “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.”7840

    7840 John i. 1.

    It is written, “Thou shalt not take God’s name in vain.”7841

    7841 Ex. xx. 7.

    This for certain is He “who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”7842

    7842 Phil. ii. 6.

    In what form of God? Of course he means in some form, not in none. For who will deny that God is a body, although “God is a Spirit?”7843

    7843 John iv. 24.

    For Spirit has a bodily substance of its own kind, in its own form.7844

    7844 This doctrine of the soul’s corporeality in a certain sense is treated by Tertullian in his De Resurr. Carn. xvii., and De Anima v. By Tertullian, spirit and soul were considered identical. See our Anti-Marcion, p. 451, note 4, Edin.

    Now, even if invisible things, whatsoever they be, have both their substance and their form in God, whereby they are visible to God alone, how much more shall that which has been sent forth from His substance not be without substance!  Whatever, therefore, was the substance of the Word that I designate a Person, I claim for it the name of Son; and while I recognize the Son, I assert His distinction as second to the Father.7845

    7845 [On Tertullian’s orthodoxy, here, see Kaye, p. 502.]


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