On the Incomprehensible Nature of God (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 72)

On the Incomprehensible Nature of God (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 72)

Translated by PAUL W. HARKINS
Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 371
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  • Book Info
    On the Incomprehensible Nature of God (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 72)
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    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1172-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xii)
    (pp. xiii-2)
    (pp. 3-48)

    Two previous volumes in this series have dealt with the Trinitarian and Christological errors of Arianism. St. Hilary of Poitiers: The Trinity, translated by Stephen McKenna, C.SS.R.,¹ appeared in 1954 and offers in English the saint’s Latin treatise, De Trinitate. Hilary became bishop of Poitiers about A.D.354 but was exiled to Phrygia some two years later because he refused the Emperor Constantius’ demand that he repudiate the orthodox teaching of St. Athanasius against the Arians on the divinity of Christ. During his exile he completed the twelve books of his De Trinitate; in this work his chief targets are the...

  6. On the Incomprehensible Nature of God
    • HOMILY I
      (pp. 51-70)

      What is this I see? The shepherd¹ is not here and still his sheep show a well-disciplined attitude. And this marks the pastoral success and virtue of the shepherd when, whether he is present or away, his flocks display complete earnestness and attention. Dumb sheep must remain in their pens when no one is there to lead them to pasture. If they put their heads out of the fold when no one is tending them, there must be a risk that they may roam far away. Here, however, we have no dumb sheep. Even if your shepherd is away, because...

      (pp. 71-94)

      Some now, Let us gain¹ grid ourselves against the unbelieving and infidel Anomoeans.² If the are vexed because I call them infidels, let them flee the fact, and I will hide the name; let them lay aside their heretical ideas, and I will put aside this title of reproach. However, if they do not hide away these thoughts but continue to dishonor the faith and disgrace themselves by their actions, why are they vexed with me because my words indict them on charges which they themselves prove by their deeds?

      (2) As you recall, a short time ago I did...

      (pp. 95-114)

      When hard-working farmers see a fruitless tree growing wild and spoiling their labors, a tree which, with its rugged roots and thick shade, is destroying the plants they have cultivated, they lose no time in cutting it down. Often a wind which has arisen from some quarter of the sky joins with them to help in removing it by blowing the foliage off the tree. After shaking the tree violently, this wind snaps off limbs and strews them over the ground. In this way the wind does much to lighten the farmers’ labor. We, too, are cutting down a...

      (pp. 115-136)

      I recently¹ proved to you that God is incomprehensible to men² and even to the Cherubim and Seraphim.³ I should be satisfied now to put the question aside without bringing forward further arguments on this subject. But the chief purpose of my efforts and desire was not only to stitch shut the mouths of my Anomoean opponents but also to provide more and more instruction to your loving assembly.⁴ So it is that again I take up the same question and advance my argument still further.

      (2) The time I spend on these arguments will both increase your knowledge about...

    • HOMILY V
      (pp. 137-163)

      When a speaker is going to take up a rather lenghthy topic, it will require several discourses. It cannot be completed in one or two or three days but needs several more. In such a case, I think a teacher must not impose his entire instruction on the minds of his hearers suddenly and all at once. I think he should divide his whole topic into several parts and, by means of this division, make the burden of his argument light and easy to grasp. For surely, speech, hearing, and each of our senses has measures and rules and established...

      (pp. 164-183)

      Today I was preparing to strip for the struggles against the heretic Anomoeans and to pay off the balance of my debt to you.¹ But the feast of Blessed Philogonius,² which we are celebrating today, has summoned my voice to recount his virtuous deeds. And I must show full obedience to this summons. For if a man who speaks ill of his mother or father dies the death,³ it is clear that a man who speaks well of them will have full enjoyment of the rewards of life. If our parents in the flesh should enjoy such good will from...

      (pp. 184-211)

      Again the chariot-races are on,¹ and again our congregation has shrunk.² However, as long as you are present, our assembly could not shrink. If a farmer should see his crop in full bloom and ready for harvest, he makes little account of the fact that the leaves are falling. Since you are here as my harvest, neither do I now feel such great distress because I see that the fallen leaves are being swept away. I do grieve for the laxity of those who are not here, but still the earnestness of the loving assembly of you who present...

      (pp. 212-232)

      Yesterday¹ we returned from war, from a war and battle with the heretics. Our weapons were stained with blood, the sword of my discourse was red with gore. We did not strike down their bodies but we did destroy their arguments and “Every proud pretension which raises itself against the knowledge of God.”² For such is the kind of battle this is and, therefore, such is the nature of the weapons. Paul instructed us on both these points when he said: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but powerful before God for demolishing strongholds and destroying arguments...

      (pp. 233-243)

      Today,¹ Lazarus, who was raised from the dead, gives us the solution to many different problems. However, the passage which was read² has also, in some ways, given an opportunity for argument to the heretics and a pretext to the Jews³ to oppose our position. However, their argument and opposition are not founded in the truth—heaven forbid!—but arise from their malicious souls. For many of the heretics are saying that the Son is not like the Father.⁴ Why? Because, they say, Christ had need of prayer to raise Lazarus back to life; if he had not prayed, he...

    • HOMILY X
      (pp. 244-269)

      During the past several days,¹ I have delivered many panegyrics. In them I took as my theme the struggles of the Apostle [Paul] and I took delight in recounting his spiritual acts of virtue. Now, indeed, it is time for me to finish repaying my debt to you,² and there is nothing to keep me from doing so. Because so many days have intervened, I know that you have forgotten how much I still owe you. However, I shall not on that account hide my debts but I will be very eager to pay them off. I do not do...

      (pp. 270-285)

      I have talked with you¹ for but a single day,² and, after that day, I have come to love you as if I had been reared and brought up with you from the very start and from my first day on earth. The bonds of this love have united me to you just as strongly as if I had enjoyed the great pleasure of your society for time beyond telling. Nor was it my own friendly and affectionate nature which brought this about. It is because I have found you desirable and lovable beyond all others. Who could fail to...

      (pp. 286-308)

      Blessed be God!¹ At each assembly² I see that the procedure of our fields has grown, our crops are in full bloom, our threshing floor has been filled, our sheaves are multiplying. Even if we count how few were the days since we sowed this seed,³ look how rich a crop has sprouted up because of your obedience. This makes it clear that it is not the power of any man but God’s grace which is cultivating and tending this Church. For this is the nature of a spiritual sowing. It does not wait for time or a number of...