By the case of Leporius he establishes the fact that an open sin ought to be expiated by an open confession; and also teaches from his words what is the right view to be held on the Incarnation.
And from his confession or rather lamentation we have thought it well to quote some part, for two reasons: that their recantation might be a testimony to us, and an example to those who are weak, and that they might not be ashamed to follow in their amendment, the men whom they were not ashamed to follow in their error; and that they might be cured by a like remedy as they suffered from a like disease. He then acknowledging the perverseness of his views, and seeing the light of faith, wrote to the Gallican Bishops, and thus began: 2372 “I scarcely know, O my most venerable lords and blessed priests, what first to accuse myself of, and what first to excuse myself for. Clumsiness and pride and foolish ignorance together with wrong notions, zeal combined with indiscretion, and (to speak truly) a weak faith which was gradually failing, all these were admitted by me and flourished to such an extent that I am ashamed of having yielded to such and so many sins, while p. 554 at the same time I am profoundly thankful for having been able to cast them out of my soul.” And after a little he adds: “If then, not understanding this power of God, and wise in our conceits and opinions, from fear lest God should seem to act a part that was beneath Him, we suppose that a man was born in conjunction with God, in such a way that we ascribe to God alone what belongs to God separately, and attribute to man alone what belongs to man separately, we clearly add a fourth Person to the Trinity and out of the one God the Son begin to make not one but two Christs; from which may our Lord and God Jesus Christ Himself preserve us. Therefore we confess that our Lord and God Jesus Christ the only Son of God, who for His own sake 2373 was begotten of the Father before all worlds, when in time He was for our sakes 2374 made man of the Holy Ghost and the ever-virgin Mary, was God at His birth; and while we confess the two substances of the flesh and the Word, 2375 we always acknowledge with pious belief and faith one and the same Person to be indivisibly God and man; and we say that from the time when He took upon Him flesh all that belonged to God was given to man, as all that belonged to man was joined to God. 2376 And in this sense the Word was made flesh: 2377 not that He began by any conversion or change to be what He was not, but that by the Divine economy the Word of the Father never left the Father, 2378 and yet vouchsafed to become truly man, and the Only Begotten was incarnate through that hidden mystery which He alone understands (for it is ours to believe: His to understand). And thus God the Word Himself receiving everything that belongs to man, is made man, and the manhood 2379 which is assumed, receiving everything that belongs to God cannot but be God; but whereas He is said to be incarnate and unmixed, we must not hold that there is any diminution of His substance: for God knows how to communicate Himself without suffering any corruption, and yet truly to communicate Himself. He knows how to receive into Himself without Himself being increased thereby, just as He knows how to impart Himself in such a way as Himself to suffer no loss. We should not then in our feeble minds make guesses, in accordance with visible proofs and experiments, from the case of creatures which are equal, and which mutually enter into each other, nor think that God and man are mixed together, and that out of such a fusion of flesh and the Word (i.e., the Godhead and manhood) some sort of body is produced. God forbid that we should imagine that the two natures being in a way moulded together should become one substance. For a mixture of this sort is destructive of both parts. For God, who contains and is not Himself contained, who enters into things and is not Himself entered into, who fills things and is not Himself filled, who is everywhere at once in His completeness and is diffused everywhere, communicates Himself graciously to human nature by the infusion of His power.” And after a little: “Therefore the God-man, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is truly born for us of the Holy Ghost and the ever-virgin Mary. And so in the two natures the Word and Flesh become one, so that while each substance continues naturally perfect in itself, what is Divine imparteth without suffering any loss, to the humanity, and what is human participates in the Divine; nor is there one person God, and another person man, but the same person is God who is also man: and again the man who is also God is called and indeed is Jesus Christ the only Son of God; and so we must always take care and believe so as not to deny that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Very God (whom we confess as existing ever with the Father and equal to the Father before all worlds) became from the moment when He took flesh the God-man. Nor may we imagine that gradually as time went on He became God, and that He was in one condition before the resurrection and in another after it, but that He was always of the same fulness and power.” And again a little later on: “But because the Word of God 2380 vouchsafed to come down upon manhood by assuming manhood, and manhood was taken up into the Word by being assumed by God, God the Word in His completeness became complete man. For it was not God the Father who was made man, nor the Holy Ghost, but the Only Begotten p. 555 of the Father; and so we must hold that there is one Person of the Flesh and the Word: so as faithfully and without any doubt to believe that one and the same Son of God, who can never be divided, existing in two natures 2381 (who was also spoken of as a “giant” 2382 ) in the days of His Flesh truly took upon Him all that belongs to man, and ever truly had as His own what belongs to God: since even though 2383 He was crucified in weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God.”
The recantation of Leporius may be found in the Bibliotheca Maxima Patrum. vol. vii. p. 14; Labbe, Concilia, ii. p. 1678; and Migne Patrol. Lat. xxxi. p. 1221.554:2373
Caro and Verbum when used in this way stand for the Humanity and the Divinity of Christ.554:2376
The meaning of course is not that the manhood was endowed with the properties of Deity, or conversely the Deity with the properties of Humanity, but simply that two whole and perfect natures were joined together in the one Person.554:2377
S. John i. 14.554:2378
This phrase gives some countenance to the idea that the recantation was actually drawn up by Augustine, as the thought which it contains is a favorite one with him, as excluding any notion that Christ ever for one moment ceased to be God. See Serm. 184. “Intelligerent…Eum…in homine ad nos venisse et a Patre non recessisse.” 186 “manens quod erat.” Similar language is used by S. Leo, Serm. 18. c. 5. In Natio. 2. c. 2. and S. Thomas Aquinas in the well-known Sacramental hymn “Verbum supernum prodiens, Nec Patris linquens dexteram.” Cf. Brights S. Leo on the Incarnation, p. 220.554:2379
Homo is here used as frequently by Augustine and other early writers for “Manhood,” and not an “individual man.” In this way it was freely used till the Nestorian Controversy, after which it went out of favour as capable of a Nestorian interpretation, and gave place to “humanitas” or “humana natura,” when the manhood of Christ was spoken of. See the Church Quarterly Review vol. xviii. p. 10; and Brights S. Leo on the Incarnation, p. 165.554:2380
Verbum Dei (Petschenig) Verbum Deus (Gazæus).555:2381
The allusion is to Psa. 19.5, where the Latin (Gallican Psalter) has “Exultavit, ut gigas, ad currendam viam.” The mystical interpretation which takes the words as referring to Christ is not uncommon. So in a hymn “De Adventu Domini” (Mone. Vol. i. p. 43) we have the verse, “Procedit a thalamo suo Pudoris aula regia Geminæ gigas substantiæ, Alacris ut currat viam,” and in another “De natali Domini” (p. 58) “Ut gigas egreditur ad currendam viam.”555:2383
Etsi (Petschenig) Et sic (Gazæus).