Epistle of Immaculate Conception

Proverbs 8:23-35

The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His ways, before He made anything, from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old, before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived neither had the fountains of waters as yet sprung out; the mountains with their huge bulk had not yet been established: before the hills I was brought forth He had not yet made the earth, nor the rivers, not the poles of the world. When He prepared the Heavens, I was there when with a certain law and compass He enclosed the depths; when He established the sky above, and poised the fountains of waters; when He compassed the sea with its bounds, and set a law to the waters that they should not pass their limits; when He balanced the foundations of the earth; I was with Him, forming all things, and was delighted every day, playing before Him at all times, playing in the world: and my delight is to be with the children of men. Now, therefore, ye children, hear me: blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates, and waiteth at the posts of my doors. He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.


Verse 23. Up. Heb. “anointed.” Sept. “he founded.” Christ was appointed to be the foundation, on which we must be built. S. Athan. iii. Orat.

Verse 24. Conceived. Having yet manifested none of my works. Since the creation, wisdom only seeks to communicate itself to us. C.

Verse 26. Poles. Heb. “head or height of the dust of the world.” H. — I subsisted with the chaos, before things appeared in their present form. C. — The poles denote the north and south, or the four quarters of the world. M.

Verse 28. Sky. Prot. “clouds.” Pagn. “the air.” Vulg. æthera. Sept. “the clouds above.” H. — Moses assigns the higher and lower waters the same origin. Gen. i. 7.

Verse 29. Pass. This is often remarked. Ps. xli. 8. — Earth. See Job xxxviii. 8. C.

Verse 30. Forming. Heb. “one nursed,” (C.) or nursing, nutritius. Pagn. — He was not an idle spectator. — Playing. With ease and surprising variety. C.

Verse 31. Men. God saw that all was good, but delighted most in his own image. M. — He prefers man before all other corporeal creatures. W. — To him alone below he has granted understanding, and a soul capable of virtue. The Son has also assumed our nature. Bar. iii. 37.

Verse 35. Lord. Wisdom, or Jesus Christ, is our salvation, happiness, and life. Sept. “and the will is prepared by the Lord.” S. Aug. often quotes this to prove the necessity of preventing grace. Ep. ccxvii. and clxxxvi. C.


50 - The Trinity and the Incarnation

Fragment from epistle against the Tritheists and
Sabellians, about the year 260

But why should I treat further about these matters with you, man full of the Spirit, and especially who understand what absurdities follow from that opinion which asserts that the Son was made? It seems to me that the leaders of this belief did not consider these at all, and thus have completely strayed from the truth, when they explain differently from what the divine and prophetic Scripture wishes, the passage: “The Lord created man in the beginning of his ways” [Prov. 8:22: LXX]. Certainly there is not, as you know, only one meaning of the word “created.” For in this passage “created” is the same as “he set him over works made by Him,” made, I say, by the Son Himself.

But here “created” ought not to be understood exactly as “made.” For “to make” and “to create” differ from each other. “Is not he thy father that hast possessed thee, and made thee, and created thee?” [Dt. 32:6:LXX] said Moses in the great canticle of Deuteronomy. And so who can rightly refute them: O rash and inconsiderate men, was he then a made thing “the first born of every creature” [Col. 1:15], “begotten from the womb before the daystar” [Ps. 109:3:LXX] of whom as Wisdom says, “before all the hills he brought me forth”? [Prov. 8:25:LXX]. Finally anybody may read in many passages of the divine statements that the Son was “begotten,” but nowhere “made.” By reason of this they who dare to call His divine and inexplicable begetting a making, are clearly proved to speak falsely about the Lord’s generation.

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