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St Cyril of Alexandria Commentary on John (Fifth Part)

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Page 27

And perhaps it might seem to minds more open to conviction that this matter has been sufficiently discussed, as indeed I think myself: yet our opponent will by no means assent to this; but he will meet us again with the objection, dishing up again the argument introduced by him at the first, that the Father is in the Son in the same manner, as we are in Him.

"What then," we might say, judiciously rebuking the unsoundness and childishness of his thoughts and words, "dost thou say that the Son is in the Father even as we are in Him? Be it so. What limit to our natural capacity then," we shall reply, "is there, that prevents us from using expressions with respect to ourselves as exalted as any of those which Christ is seen to have used? For He Himself, seeing that He is in the Father and has the Father in Himself, inasmuch as He is thereby both an Exact Likeness and Very Image of Him, uses the expressions: He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father: I and the Father are One. But with regard to ourselves, tell me, if we are in Him and if we have Him in ourselves exactly in the same way that Christ Himself is in the Father and the Father in Him, why do we not extend our necks as much as we can, and, holding our heads high above those around us, say with boldness: "I am in Christ and Christ in me: He that hath seen me hath seen Christ: I and Christ are one "? Then what would come next? No one, I think, would any longer have any just cause for alarm, or any sufficient ground for hesitation, to prevent his speaking as follows, daring henceforth to say concerning the Father Himself: "I and the Father are one." For if the Father is one with the Son, surely such a man, having become an exact image of the Exact Image, namely of the Son, will share henceforth in all the Son's relations to the Father Himself. Who therefore will ever descend to such a depth of madness as to dare to say: "He who hath seen me hath seen Christ: I and Christ are one"? For if thou attributest to the Son the being in the Father and the having the Father in Himself in some non-essential manner and not in His nature, and supposest that we in like manner are in Christ and Christ in us; in the first place the Son will be on the same footing as ourselves, and in the next place there is nothing that prevents us at our pleasure from passing by the Son Himself as though He were an obstacle in our way, and rushing straight on to the Father Himself, and claiming that we are so exactly assimilated to Him that nothing can be found which distinguishes us from Him. For the being said to be one with anything would naturally bear this meaning. Do ye not then see into what a depth of folly and at the same time of impiety their minds have sunk, and of what absurd arguments the wild attack upon us has consisted? What their excuse is therefore for saying and upholding such things, and for buoying themselves up on such rotten arguments, I will now again tell. Their one endeavour is to show that the Son is altogether alien and altogether foreign to the essence of the Father. For we shall know that we are speaking the truth in saying this, by reference to the words that follow after and are closely connected with the heretic's previous blasphemies. For he proceeds thus: "But even as we, while we are in Him, have our substance in no way mingled with His; in the same way also the Son, while He is in the Father, has His essence entirely different from the Unbegotten God." What sayest thou, O infatuated one? Hast thou made thy blasphemy against the Son in such plain language? Will any one therefore venture to say that we are trying to heap upon the heads of the God-opposers groundless and false accusations'? For see clearly, they attribute to Him no superiority whatever over those who have been made of earth and have been by Him brought into existence. And although I can scarcely endure the things which the wretched men have dared to say, I will endeavour to prove this, as being in accordance with the scope of Divine Scripture, namely, that since they deny the Son they deny at the same time the Father also, and thenceforth are without God and without hope in this world, as it is written. And to prove that we are right in saying this, the God-beloved John will come forward as a trustworthy witness on our side, for he wrote thus: He that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father; he that confesseth the Son hath the Father also. And surely the Spirit-bearer speaketh very rightly, not failing to make his statement conform fittingly to his argument. For because he knows that [God the Father] is essentially in His nature what He is said to be, namely a Father, and that not merely in name but rather in reality, he consequently says that the One is necessarily denied when the Other is denied. For concurrently in some way or other with One Who is really in His nature a Father and is so conceived of, there must always be the knowledge and manifestation of the Offspring that proceedeth from Him; and One Who has been in very truth begotten involves the Personal existence of Another capable by nature of begetting. For no sooner do we recognise a man as a father than we understand him to have begotten offspring, and we can by no means consider the idea of an offspring without implying that some father has begotten it. Thus by either term the other conception is produced in the minds of those who hear it, and so any one who denies that God is truly a Father makes out the generation of the Son to be altogether impossible, and similarly any one who does not confess the Son to be an Offspring must by implication lose all knowledge of the Father. When therefore, as from a sling, he hurls at us his unholy arguments, and maintains that the Son has His essence quite distinct from that of the Unbegotten God, why does He not openly deny that the Son is really a Son? And if there is not a Son, the Father Himself can no longer be conceived of as truly a Father. For whose Father will He be, if He has not begotten any Offspring? What we say is, that the Son is quite distinct from the Person, but not from the essence, of the Father; not being alien from Him in His nature, as forsooth these God-opposers think, but being possessed of His own Person and His own distinct subsistence, inasmuch as He is Son and not Father. But, if we understand our own mind rightly, we would not ourselves say, nor would we assent to any of the brethren who say, that He is distinct from the Father in regard to essence. For how can distinction exist in that one thing, with reference to which each individual has some special characteristic? For Peter is Peter, and not Paul, and Paul is not Peter; yet they remain without distinction in their nature. For both possess one kind of nature, and the individuals who are associated in a uniformity of nature have that same kind without any difference at all.  

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