“One therefore is He Who both before the Incarnation was Very God and in the human nature hath remained That He was and is and shall be”

Desiring to investigate the Mystery of the economy with flesh of the Only Begotten, we say this, holding true doctrine and right faith, that the Word Himself out of God the Father, Very God out of Very God, the Light That is out of Light, was Incarnate and made Man, descended suffered rose from the dead: for thus defined the holy and great Synod the Symbol of the Faith;

But investigating and desiring to learn what is the true meaning of the Word being Incarnate and made Man; we see that it is not to take man in connection in regard of equality of dignity or authority or of mere community of name of sonship; but rather to be made man as we, together with His preserving to His own Nature Its being unchanged and without turn, Who economically became in assumption of flesh and blood.

One therefore is He Who before the Incarnation is called by the God-inspired Scripture, Only-Begotten, Word, God, Image, Brightness, Impress of the Person of the Father, Life, Glory, Light, Wisdom, Power, Arm, Right Hand, Most Highest, Magnificence, Lord of Sabaoth, and other like names, truly most God-befitting; and after the Incarnation, Man, Christ Jesus, Propitiation, Mediator, Firstfruits of them that slept, First-begotten of the dead, Second Adam, Head of the Body the Church; the first names also following Him: for all are His, both the first and those in the last times of the world.

One therefore is He Who both before the Incarnation was Very God and in the human nature hath remained That He was and is and shall be. We must not then sever the One Lord Jesus Christ into Man separately and into God separately, but we say that Jesus Christ is One and the Same, yet knowing the distinction of the Natures and keeping them unconfused with one another.

When therefore Holy Writ says that in Christ dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, we do not therefore say that the Word by Himself dwelt in another, the man Christ, nor plucking asunder one from another things united do we conceive of two sons, but this rather, that holy Writ calls by the name Christ sometimes separately the human nature of the Word of God which He having as His own, used as a Temple. And it has been written somewhere of human souls also, Them that dwell in houses of clay, whereof we too are of the same clay. Do we then, since he calls the bodies of men houses of clay, and affirms that their souls dwell in them, sever one man into two? yet how is it not wholly without blame, that in a man should be said to dwell his spirit? so that even though the form of speech passes through this mode, unable to do otherwise, it does not beseem that the natures of things are therefore injured, but rather we must conceive that they hasten the straight way of the truth.

When then any of those things which do not possess like nature one with another, are seen brought together to unity by composition, and the one (for example) is said to dwell within the other; we must not sunder them into two, seeing that the concurrence unto unity is in no wise injured, even though one of the things united be separately called by us what the two together are. For in man too (as I said) is said to dwell his spirit; yet both the spirit separately and likewise the body are called man. And some such thing as this doth the most wise Paul indicate to us saying, For though our outward man perish yet the inward man is renewed day by day. When then any saith that our inward man dwelleth in our outward man, he speaks true, yet he does not sever the one into two. The Prophet Isaiah too somewhere saith, By night does my spirit rise early unto Thee, O God. Is then his spirit said to rise early to God, as being other than himself? albeit how is it not absurd to say any thing of this kind? Therefore we must know figures of speech, yet not depart from what is reasonable, but fetch about the force of the things signified to the aim befitting each.

And although Jesus be said to advance in age and wisdom and grace, this will pertain to the economy. For the Word of God permitted His Humanity to advance by reason of the habits of its proper nature, and willed as it were by little and little to extend the illustriousness of His own Godhead, and along with the age of the Body to put out therewith what is Its own; so that nought strange should be seen and terrify any with its overmuch unwontedness: while even so they spake, How knoweth this man letters having never learned? Therefore bodily is the increase; and the advance in grace and wisdom will befit the measures of the Human nature: yet we say that the Word out of God is Himself in His own Nature All-Perfect, not lacking advance, nor wisdom, nor grace, but that He imparts rather to the creature wisdom and grace and the things whereby it is in good case.

And though Jesus be said also to suffer, the suffering will belong to the economy; but is said to be His, and with all reason, because His too is that which suffered, and He was in the suffering Body, He unknowing to suffer (for He is Impassible as God); yet as far as pertained to the daring of those who raged against Him, He would have suffered, if He could have suffered.

Therefore since the Only-Begotten has been made as we, as often as He is called Man by the God-inspired Scripture, considering the economy, let us confess that even so is He God by Nature.

St Cyril of Alexandria

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