Christ "emptied Himself" (Philippians 2:7)
V. The actions of Christ's two natures must be kept distinct.
Although therefore in our one LORD Jesus Christ, the true Son of GOD and man, the person of the Word and of the flesh is one, and both beings have their actions in common(8): yet we must understand the character of the acts themselves, and by the contemplation of sincere faith distinguish those to which the humility of His weakness is brought from those to which His sublime power is inclined: what it is that the flesh without the Word or the Word without the flesh does not do. For instance, without the power of the Word the Virgin would not have conceived nor brought forth: and without the reality of the flesh His infancy would not have laid wrapt in swaddling clothes. Without the power of the Word the Magi would not have adored the Child that a new star had pointed out to them: and without the reality of the flesh that Child would not have been ordered to be carried away into Egypt and withdrawn from Herod's persecution. Without the power of the Word the Father's voice uttered from the sky would not have said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased(9):" and without the reality of the flesh John would not have been able to point to Him and say: "Behold the Lamb of GOD, behold Him that beareth away the sins of the world(1)." Without the power of the Word there would have been no restoring of the sick to health, no raising of the dead to life: and without the reality of the flesh He would not have hungered and needed food, nor grown weary and needed rest. Lastly, without the power of the Word, the LORD would not have professed Himself equal to the Father, and without the reality of the flesh He would not also have said that the Father was greater than He: for the catholic Faith upholds and defends both positions, believing the only Son of GOD to be both Man and the Word according to the distinctive properties of His divine and human substance.
VI. There is no confusion of the two natures in Christ(2).
Although therefore from that beginning whereby in the Virgin's womb "the Word became flesh," no sort of division ever arose between the Divine and the human substance, and through all the growth and changes of His body, the actions were of one Person the whole time, yet we do not by any mixing of them up confound those very acts which were done inseparably: and from the character of the acts we perceive what belonged to either form. For neither do His Divine acts affect(3) His human, nor His human acts His Divine, since both concur in this way and to this very end that in their operation His twofold qualities be not absorbed the one by the other, nor His individuality doubled. Therefore let those Christian phantom-mongers(4) tell us, what nature of the Saviour's it was that was fastened to the wood of the Cross, that lay in the tomb, and that on the third day rose in the flesh when the stone was rolled away from the grave: or what kind of body Jesus presented to His disciples' eyes entering when the doors were shut upon them: seeing that to drive away the beholders' disbelief, He required them to inspect with their eyes and to handle with their hands the still open prints of the nails and the flesh wound of His pierced side. But if in spite of the truth being so clear, their persistence in heresy will not abandon their position in the darkness, let them show whence they promise themselves the hope of eternal life, which no one can attain to, save through the mediator between GOD and man, the man Jesus Christ. For "there is not another name given to men under heaven, in which they must be saved(5)." Neither is there any ransoming of men from captivity, save in His blood, "who gave Himself a ransom for all(6):" who, as the blessed apostle proclaims, "when He was in the form of GOD, thought it not robbery that He was equal with GOD; but emptied Himself, receiving the form of a slaves Icing made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man He humbled Himself, being made obedient even unto death, the death of the cross. For which reason GOD also exalted Him, and gave Him a name which is above every name: that in the name of Jesus every knee may bow of things in heaven, of things on the earth, and of things under the earth, and that every tongue may confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of GOD the Father(7)."
VII.It was as being "in form of a slave," not as Son of God that He was exalted.
Although therefore the LORD Jesus Christ is one, and the true Godhead and true Manhood in Him forms absolutely one and the same person, and the entirety of this union cannot be separated by any division, yet the exaltation wherewith "GOD exalted Him," and "gave Him a name which excels every name," we understand to belong to that form which needed to be enriched by this increase of glory(9). Of course "in the form of GOD" the Son was equal to the Father, and between the Father and the Only- begotten there was no distinction in point of essence, no diversity in point of majesty: nor through the mystery(1) of the Incarnation had the Word been deprived of anything which should be restored Him by the Father's gift. But "the form of a slave" by which the impassible Godhead fulfilled a pledge of mighty loving-kindness(2), is human weakness which was lifted up into the glory of the divine power, the Godhead and the manhood being right from the Virgin's conception so completely united that without the manhood the divine acts, and without the Godhead the human acts were not performed. For which reason as the LORD of majesty is said to have been crucified, so He who from eternity is equal with GOD is said to have been exalted. Nor does it matter by which substance Christ is spoken of, since the unity of His person inseparably remaining He is at once both wholly Son of man according to the flesh and wholly Son of GOD according to His Godhead, which is one with the Father. Whatever therefore Christ received in time, He received in virtue of His manhood, on which are conferred whatsoever it had not. For according to the power of the Word, "all things that the Father hath" the Son also hath indiscriminately, and what "in the form of a slave" He received from the Father, He also Himself gave in the form of the Father. He is in Himself at once both rich and poor; rich, because "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with GOD, and GOD was the Word. This was in the beginning with GOD. All things were made through Him, and without Him was made nothing:" and poor because "the Word became flesh and dwelt in us(3)." But what is that emptying of Himself, or that poverty except the receiving of the form of a slave by which the majesty of the Word was veiled, and the scheme for man's redemption carried out? For as the original chains of our captivity could not be loosed, unless a man of our race and of our nature appeared who was not under the prejudice of the old debt, and who with his untainted blood might blot out the bond of death(4), as it had from the beginning been divinely fore-ordained, so it came to pass in the fulness of the appointed time that the promise which had been proclaimed in many ways might reach its long expected fulfilment, and that thus, what had been frequently announced by one testimony after another, might have all doubtfulness removed.
VIII. A protest against their faithlessness and inconsistency in this matter.
And so, as all these heresies have been destroyed, which through the holy devotion of the presiding Fathers have been cut off from the body of the catholic unity, and which deserved to be exiles from Christ, because they have made the Incarnation of the Word, which is the one salvation of those who believe aright, a stone of offence and a stumbling-block to themselves, I am surprised that you, beloved, have any difficulty in discerning the light of the Truth. And since it has been made clear by numerous explanations that the Christian Faith was right in condemning both Nestorius and Eutyches with Dioscorus, and that a man cannot be called a Christian who gives his assent to the blasphemous opinion of either the one or the other, I am grieved that you are, as I hear, doing despite to the teaching of the Gospel and the Apostles by stirring up the various bodies of citizens with seditions, by disturbing the churches, and by inflicting not only insults, but even death, upon priests and bishops, so that you lose sight of your resolves and profession s through your fury and cruelty. Where is your rule of meekness and quietness? where is the long-suffering of patience? where the tranquillity of peace? where the firm foundation of love and courage of endurance? what evil persuasion has carried you off, what persecution has separated you from the gospel of Christ? or what strange craftiness of the Deceiver has shown itself that, forgetting the prophets and apostles, forgetting the health-giving creed and confession which you pronounced before many witnesses when you received the sacrament of baptism you should give yourselves up to the the Devil's deceits? what effect would "the Claws(6)" and other cruel tortures have had on you if the empty comments of heretics have had so much weight in taking the purity of your faith by storm? you think you are acting for the Faith and yet you go against the Faith. You arm yourselves in the name of the Church and yet fight against the Church. Is this what you have learnt from prophets, evangelists, and apostles? to deny the true flesh of Christ, to subject the ,very essence of the Word to suffering and death, to make our nature different from His who repaired it, and to reckon all that the cross uplifted, that the spear pierced, that the stone on the tomb received and gave back, to be only the work: of Divine power, and not also of human humility? It is in reference to this humility that the Apostle says, "For I do not blush for the Gospel(7)," inasmuch as he knew what a slur was cast upon Christians by their enemies. And, therefore, the LORD also made proclamation, saying: "he that shall confess Me before men him will I also confess before My Father(8)." For these will not be worthy of the Son and the Father's acknowledgment in whom the flesh of Christ awakens no respect: and they will prove themselves to have gained no virtue from the sign of the cross(9) who blush to avow with their lips what they have consented to bear upon their brows.
IX. An exhortation to accept the catholic view of the Incarnation.
Give up, my sons, give up these suggestions of the devil. GOD's Truth nothing can impair, but the Truth does not save us except in our flesh. For, as the prophet says, "truth is sprung out of the earth(1)," and the Virgin Mary conceived the Word in such wise that she ministered flesh of her substance to be united to Him without the addition of a second person, and without the disappearance of her nature: seeing that He who was in the form of GOD took the form of a slave in such wise that Christ is one and the same in both forms: GOD bending Himself to the-weak things of man, and man rising up to the high things of the Godhead, as the Apostle says, "whose are the fathers, and from whom, according to the flesh is Christ, who is above all things GOD blessed for ever. Amen(2)."
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