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St Gregory of Nyssa The Great Catechism, Complete

Translated by W. Moore and H. A. Wilson

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54 Pages

Page 51

Chapter XXXVIII.

There is now, I think, wanting in these remarks no answer to inquiries concerning the Gospel mystery, except that on Faith [2043] ; which we give briefly in the present treatise. For those who require a more elaborate account we have already published it in other works of ours, in which we have explained the subject with all the earnestness and accuracy in our power. In those treatises we have both fought [2044] controversially with our opponents, and also have taken private consultation with ourselves as to the questions which have been brought against us. But in the present discussion we have thought it as well only to say just so much on the subject of faith as is involved in the language of the Gospel, namely, that one who is begotten by the spiritual regeneration may know who it is that begets him, and what sort of creature he becomes. For it is only this form of generation which has in it the power to become what it chooses to be.

Chapter XXXIX.

For, while all things else that are born are subject to the impulse of those that beget them, the spiritual birth is dependent on the power of him who is being born. Seeing, then, that here lies the hazard, namely, that he should not miss what is for his advantage, when to every one a free choice is thus open, it were well, I think, for him who is moved towards the begetting of himself, to determine by previous reasoning what kind of father is for his advantage, and of what element it is better for him that his nature should consist. For, as we have said, it is in the power of such a child as this to choose its parents.

[2043] Faith. Cf. Church Catechism; "Faith whereby they steadfastly believe the promises of God made to them in that Sacrament (of Baptism)."

[2044] suneplakemen, i.e. against Eunomius, in defence of the equality of the Trinity in the Baptismal symbol. Often as Gregory in that treatise opposes Eunomius for placing the essence of Christianity in mere gnosis and dogmaton akribeia, as against God's incomprehensibility, and knowledge only by the heart, he had yet spent his whole life in showing the supreme importance of accuracy in the formulas upon which the Faith rested. This helps to give a date for the Great Catechism.

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