Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume II/Socrates/Book II/Chapter 21
Chapter XXI.—Defense of Eusebius Pamphilus.
But since some have attempted to stigmatize even Eusebius Pamphilus himself as having favored the Arian views in his works, it may not be irrelevant here to make a few remarks respecting him. In the first place then he was both present at the council of Nicæa, which defined the doctrine of the homoousion and gave his assent to what was there determined. And in the third book of the Life of Constantine, he expressed himself in these words:
‘The emperor incited all to unanimity, until he had rendered them united in judgment on those points on which they were previously at variance; so that they were quite agreed at Nicæa in matters of faith.’ Since therefore Eusebius, in mentioning the Nicene Synod, says that all differences were removed, and that all came to unity of sentiment, what ground is there for assuming that he was himself an Arian? The Arians are also certainly deceived in supposing him to be a favorer of their tenets. But some one will perhaps say that in his discourses he seems to have adopted the opinions of Arius, because of his frequently saying through Christ,
to whom we should answer that ecclesiastical writers often use this mode of expression and others of a similar kind denoting the economy of our Saviour’s humanity: and that before all these the apostle
made use of such expressions, and never has been accounted a teacher of false doctrine. Moreover, inasmuch as Arius has dared to say that the Son is a creature, as one of the others, observe what Eusebius says on this subject, in his first book against Marcellus:
‘He alone, and no other, has been declared to be, and is the only-begotten Son of God; whence any one could justly censure those who have presumed to affirm that he is a Creature made of nothing, like the rest of the creatures; for how then would he be a Son? and how could he be God’s only-begotten, were he assigned the same nature as the other creatures…and were he one of the many created things, seeing that he, like them, would in that case be partaker of a creation from nothing? But the Sacred Scriptures do not thus instruct us.’ He again adds a little afterwards: ‘Whoever then defines the Son as made of things that are not, and as a creature produced from nothing pre-existing, forgets that while he concedes the name of Son, he denies him to be a Son in reality. For he that is made of nothing, cannot truly be the Son of God, any more than the other things which have been made; but the true Son of God, forasmuch as he is begotten of the Father, is properly denominated the only-begotten and beloved of the Father. For this reason also, he himself is God; for what can the offspring of God be, but the perfect resemblance of him who begot him? A sovereign indeed builds a city, but does not beget it; and is said to beget a son, not to build one. An artificer, also, may be called the framer, but not the father of his work; while he could by no means be styled the framer of him whom he had begotten. So also the God of the Universe is the Father of the Son; but might be fitly termed the Framer and Maker of the world. And although it is once said in Scripture,
“The Lord created me the beginning of his ways on account of his works,” yet it becomes us to consider the import of this phrase, which I shall hereafter explain; and not, as Marcellus has done, from a single passage to jeopardize the most important doctrine of the church.’
These and many other such expressions Eusebius Pamphilus has given utterance to in the first book against Marcellus; and in his third book,
declaring in what sense the term creature is to be taken, he says:
‘Accordingly, these things being thus established, it follows that in the same sense as that which preceded, the words, “The Lord created me the beginning of his ways, on account of his works,” must have been spoken. For although he says that he was created, it is not as if he should say that he had arrived at existence from what was not, nor that he himself also was made of nothing like the rest of the creatures, which some have erroneously supposed; but as subsisting, living, pre-existing, and being before the constitution of the whole world; and having been appointed to rule the universe by his Lord and Father: the word created being here used instead of ordained or constituted. Certainly the apostle
expressly called the rulers and governors among men creature, when he said, “Submit yourselves to every human creature for the Lord’s sake; whether to the king as supreme, or to governors as those sent by him.” The prophet also
when he says, “Prepare, Israel, to invoke thy God. For behold he who confirms the thunder, creates the Spirit, and announces his Christ unto men”: …has not used the word “he who creates” in the sense of makes out of nothing. For God did not then create the Spirit, when he declared his Christ to all men, since
“There is nothing new under the sun”; but the Spirit existed, and had being previously: but he was sent at what time the apostles were gathered together, when like thunder “There came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind; and they were filled with the Holy Spirit.”
And thus they declared unto all men the Christ of God, in accordance with that prophecy which says,
“Behold he who confirms the thunder, creates the Spirit, and announces his Christ unto men”: the word “creates” being used instead of “sends down,” or appoints; and thunder in another figure implying the preaching of the Gospel. Again he that says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God,”
said not this as if he had no heart; but prayed that his mind might be purified. Thus also it is said,
“That he might create the two into one new man,” instead of unite. Consider also whether this passage is not of the same kind,
“Clothe yourselves with the new man, which is created according to God”; and this,
“If, therefore, any one be in Christ, he is a new creature”; and whatever other expressions of a similar nature any one may find who shall carefully search the divinely inspired Scripture. Wherefore, one should not be surprised if in this passage, “The Lord created me the beginning of his ways,” the term “created” is used metaphorically, instead of “appointed” or constituted.’
Such words Eusebius uses in his work against Marcellus; we have quoted them on account of those who have slanderously attempted to traduce and criminate him. Neither can they prove that Eusebius attributes a beginning of subsistence to the Son of God, although they may find him often using the expressions by accommodation; and especially so, because he was an emulator and admirer of the works of Origen, in which those who are able to comprehend the depth of Origen’s writings, will perceive it to be everywhere stated that the Son was begotten of the Father. These remarks have been made in passing, in order to refute those who have misrepresented Eusebius.
- Life of Const.III. 13.
- Eusebius was accustomed to end his sermons with the formula ‘Glory be to the unborn God through his only-begotten Son,’ &c. So also at the end of his contra Sabell. I.
- 1 Cor. i.; Eph. iii. 9.
- De Eccl. Theol.I. 8, 9, and 10.
- Prov. viii. 22.
- De Eccl. Theol.III. 2.
- 1 Pet. ii. 13.
- Amos iv. 12, 13 (LXX).
- Eccl. i. 9.
- Acts ii. 2, 4.
- Amos iv. 13.
- Psalm li. 10 (LXX).
- Eph. ii. 15.
- Eph. iv. 24.
- 2 Cor. v. 17.