St Maximus the Confessor, Ambiguum 22

A perfect account of God is difficult to attain. For there are many objections to be faced, and the solutions to these objections are hard to elaborate. (St Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 28.21.)

It is not possible for things to be many without differing from one another. So if the things that have come to be are many, then unquestionably they are different. And if they are different, then their logoi must also be different. The logoi of these beings are the logoi in which they exist according to essence, and they are the logoi in which – or, rather, because of which – each one of these beings differs from the other beings.

Now, when the intellect apprehends all the logoi in beings, it contemplates in these logoi the infinite operations (ἐνέργειαι) of God. What occurs here is analogous to the manner in which, when the senses apprehend sensations, then – naturally and from necessity – during the reception of these sensations, these senses produce many and different apprehensions of the objects presented and proposed to them, and through these apprehensions apprehend the objects. Similarly, when the intellect apprehends all the logoi in beings, it naturally produces many and, indeed, infinite apprehensions of the differences by which these logoi differ, and through these apprehensions the intellect apprehends the divine operations.

In all likelihood, the intellect which thus apprehends the divine operations will consider scientific investigation into the really true being to be weak in power and unfollowable in method. For it will consider such investigation to lack an understanding of how God is both in each logos of each of the beings which exists in itself, and of how God is in all the logoi together, according to which all things exist.

According to the true rational account of things, God is truly not any being, but rather is chiefly all things and above all things. And every divine operation intimates through itself the whole God, who is, according to a certain logos, in each thing undividedly.

And if all this is properly so, then who precisely is capable of understanding and stating how the whole God is in each thing commonly and also in each being particularly, without partition and undividedly – neither being divided by the infinite differences which obtain between the beings in which he is; nor being contracted into the particular existence of any one of the beings in which he is; nor yet contracting the differences of the beings in which he is, so as to reduce them to one singular wholeness; but rather being truly all in all, never displaced from his own simplicity without partition?

Therefore, the teacher spoke well when he said that the “objections” to the account of the divinity are many. Indeed from these objections we learn only that God is. And the teacher also spoke well when he said that “the solutions are hard to elaborate.” For from these solutions we learn only what God is not.

Such solutions simply bring to an end the unprofitable and harmful curiosity of those who suppose the divine to be apprehended by the empty constructions of their reasonings. Indeed, by the empty constructions of our reasonings we cannot truly apprehend even the least logos of any existing thing, according to which it is and exists.