3 "By santification is meant the grace of regeneration, which com prises virtues inspired, including both the habit of faith and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Now these support especially the innocent soul, so that with pious affection it nurses the doctrine revealed to it, is inclined thereto, loves it, takes it to itself, and advances in it."-Hurter ad loc. The Emperor's constant zeal in defence of the Faith against the Arians is to be regarded as due to his habit of faith and to the gifts of the Spirit. The citation is from Jeremiah i. 5.
5 The original form of the Cross was that of the letter T. The numerical value of the sign T (Tau), in Greek arithmetic was 300. Eighteen was represented by ih, the first two letters of the name 'Ihsouj, Jesus. To St. Ambrose, therefore, it seemed that there was some mysterious power in the number 318, represented by the sign of the Cross and the first two letters of the Saviour's name, thus -TIH.
9 See the note 2 on §3. St. Ambrose is here speaking of the Oecumenical Council held at Nicaea in Bithynia, a.d. 325. Different accounts are given of the numbers present. Eusebius says there were 250 bishops in the Council; Athanasius and Socrates, "more than 300;" Sozomen "about 320." The number 318, however, is also given by Athanasius as well as by Theodoret and Epiphanius. See Robertson's History of the Church, Bk. II. ch. i. The victory over the infidel is, of course, the victory of the orthodox Catholics over Arius, and the Nicene Symbol may be regarded as the "trophy" commemorating the victory, the reality of which lay in getting the clause "of one substance with the Father" (omoousion tw Parri) subscribed to. The original Nicene Creed, it may be useful to observe, was not exactly the same in form as the sym bol which now is generally known by that name, and which is part of the Eucharistic office of the English Church. This latter is an enlargement of the original, and it appears to have been in use for a considerable time (not less than seventy years) before it was produced at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. It obtained general acceptance by the middle of the sixth century. Towards the end of that century (589 a.d.) an additional clause, proclaiming the proces sion of the Holy Ghost from the Son as well as the Father, was in serted at the Council of Toledo. This insertion was repudiated by the Church in the East, and became one of the causes of the separation of Eastern from Western Christendom.
11 The Latin word is natura, which, at first sight, seems less ab struse and metaphysical than the Greek ousia, or upostasij, or the Latin essentia and substantia, though it is not really so. A man's natura, nature, is what he is at and from the beginning; "change of nature" means not an absolute change, but a reformation, a new guidance and treatment of tendencies, passions, powers-some receiving a precedence denied them before, others being suppressed and put in subjection. So God's "nature" is what He is from and to all eternity, in Himself, unchangingly and unchangeably.
12 Lit. "the nations"-gentes, ta eqnh. The Romans of the Republic used to speak of foreign peoples-especially if subject to kings-as gentes exteroe, in contradistinction to the Populus Romanus. St. Ambrose of course means those who still clung to the ancient religions, who were foreigners to the commonwealth (res publica) of the Church.
13 The original is ante tempora-"before the ages"-"before time was.' Cf. 1 Cor. viii. 6; Phil. ii. 6-8; Col. i. 15 (prwtotokoj pashj ktisewj-"first-born of all creation," which Justin Martyr interprets as meaning pro pantwn twn ktismatwn-"before all created things.") Hebrews i 1-12; Rev. i. 8, Rev. i. 18; John i. 1-3. Justin Martyr, Apology, II. 6; Dialogue with Tryphon, 61. Tempora answers to the Greek aiwnej, rendered "worlds" in Heb. i. 2.
14 Sabellius was a presbyter in the Libyan Pentapolis (Barca), who came to Rome and there ventilated his heretical teaching, early in the third century, a.d. (about 210). He appears to have maintained that there was no real distinction of Persons in the Godhead. God, he said, was one individual Person: when different divine Persons were spoken of, no more was meant than different aspects of, or the assumption of different parts by, the same subject. Sabellius thus started from the ordinary usages of the term proswron as denoting (1) a mask, (2) a character or part in a drama. The Latin persona was used in the same way. Sabellianism never counted many adherents; its professors were called Patripassians, because their doctrine was tantamount to asserting that God the Father was crucified.
15 Photinus was a Galatian, who became Bishop of Sirmium (Mitrovitz in Slavonia) in the fourth century. He taught that Jesus Christ did not exist before His mother Mary, but was begotten of her by Joseph. The man Jesus, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting, was enlightened and guided by the influence of the Logos, or Divine Reason, whereby He became the Son of God, preeminent over all other prophets and teachers.
16 Arius was a presbyter of Alexandria; the origin of his heresy, however, is, as Cardinal Newman has shown, to be sought in Syria rather than in Egypt, in the sophistic method of the Antiochene schools more than in the mysticism of the Alexandrian. It was in the year 319 that Arius began to attract attention by his heterodox teaching, which led eventually to his excommunication. He found favour, however, with men of considerable importance in the Church, such as Eusebius of Caesarea in Palestine, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Athanasius of Anazarbus, and others. The question was finally discussed in a synod of bishops convened, on the summons of the Emperor Constantine, at Nicaea in Bithynia. The acts of that Council condemned Arianism-notwithstanding which, the heresy prevailed in the East till the reign of Theodosius the Great (379-395 a.d.); and having won the acceptance of the Goths, it was predominant in Gaul and Italy during the fifth century, and in Spain till the Council of Toledo (589 a.d.), and its influence affected Christian thought for centuries afterwards-possibly it is not even yet dead.
Arius urged the following dilemma: "Either the Son is an original Divine Essence; if so we must acknowledge two Gods. Or He was created, formed, begotten; if so, He is not God in the same sense as the Father is God." Arius himself chose the latter alternative, which St. Ambrose regarded as a lapse into paganism, with its "gods many and lords many," dii majores and dii minores, and divinities begotten of gods and goddesses.
Arius's errors are summarized in the anathema appended to the original Nicene Creed. "But those who say that there was a time when the Son of God was not, or that He had no existence before He was begotten, or that He was formed of things non-existent, or who assert that the Son of God is of a different substance or essence, or is created, mutable, or variable, these men the Catholic and Apostolic Church of God holds accursed."
17 Compare Eph. i. 21; Col. i. 16. Hierarchies of "Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers," were characteristic features of the Gnostic systems of the second century. The Gnostics generally thought that the world had been created by an inferior, secondary, limitary power, identified with the God of the Old Testament, whom they distinguished from the true Supreme God.
21 The word Qeoj, "God," is derived by most authorities from qeasqai, which means "to look upon." Here we have another derivation suggested, viz., from deoj, "fear," on this ground that God inspires fear.-H. Neither derivation is correct. The best perhaps is given by Herodotus (II. 52), viz., from the verb tiqhmi, to place, set, array, the idea being that God is the principal of all order and law.
45 Rom. iii. 2; Acts vii. 38. The Hebrew word translated "burden" in the A.V.-e.g. Isa. xiii. 1-may be rendered "oracle." The "oracles" of the Hebrew prophets were of a different order from those of Delphi or Lebadeia, which are rather comparable to the "oracles" of such persons as the witch of Endor.