ORIGEN DE PRINCIPIIS -- BOOK II (CHAP. I to CHAP. VI)

ORIGEN DE PRINCIPIIS.

BOOK II.

CHAP. I.--ON THE WORLD.

1. Although all the discussions in the preceding book have had reference to the world and its arrangements, it now seems to follow mat we should specially re-discuss a few points respecting the world itself, i.e., its beginning and end, or those dispensations of Divine Providence which have taken place between the beginning and the end, or those events which are supposed to have occurred before the creation of the world, or are to take place after the end.

In this investigation, the first point which clearly appears is, that the world in all its diversified and varying conditions is composed not only of rational and diviner natures, and of a diversity of bodies, but of dumb animals, wild and tame beasts, of birds, and of all things which live in the waters ;[1] then, secondly, of places, i.e., of the heaven or heavens, and of the earth or water, as well as of the air, which is intermediate, and which they term aether, and of everything which proceeds from the earth or is born in it. Seeing, then,[2] there is so great a variety in the world, and so great a diversity among rational beings themselves, on account of which every other variety and diversity also is supposed to have come into existence, what other cause than this ought to be assigned for the existence of the world, especially if we have regard to that end by means of which it was shown in the preceding book that all things are to be restored to their original condition? And if this should seem to be logically stated, what other cause, as we have already said, are we to imagine for so great a diversity in the world, save the diversity and variety in the movements and declensions of those who fell from that primeval unity and harmony in which they were at first created by God, and who, being driven from that state of goodness, and drawn in various directions by the harassing influence of different motives and desires, have changed, according to their different tendencies, the single and undivided goodness of their nature into minds of various sorts?[3]

2. But God, by the ineffable skill of His wisdom, transforming and restoring all things, in whatever manner they are made, to some useful aim, and to the common advantage of all, recalls those very creatures which differed so much from each other in mental conformation to one agreement of labour and purpose; so that, although they are under the influence of different motives, they nevertheless complete the fulness and perfection of one world, and the very variety of minds tends to one end of perfection. For it is one power which grasps and holds together all the diversity of the world, and leads the different movements towards one work, lest so immense an undertaking as that of the world should be dissolved by the dissensions of souls. And for this reason we think that God, the Father of all things, in order to ensure the salvation of all His creatures through the ineffable plan of His word and wisdom, so arranged each of these, that every spirit, whether soul or rational existence, however called, should not be compelled by force, against the liberty of his own will, to any other course than that to which the motives of his own mind led him (lest by so doing the power of exercising free-will should seem to be taken away, which certainly would produce a change in the nature of the being itself); and that the varying purposes of these would be suitably and usefully adapted to the harmony of one world, by some of them requiring help, and others being able to give it, and others again being the cause of struggle and contest to those who are making progress, amongst whom their diligence would be deemed more worthy of approval, and the place of rank obtained after victory be held with greater certainty, which should be established by the difficulties of the contest.[1]

3. Although the whole world is arranged into offices of different kinds, its condition, nevertheless, is not to be supposed as one of internal discrepancies and discordances; but as our one body is provided with many members, and is held together by one soul, so I am of opinion that the whole world also ought to be regarded as some huge and immense animal, which is kept together by the power and reason of God as by one soul. This also, I think, is indicated in sacred Scripture by the declaration of the prophet, "Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord;"[2] and again, "The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool;"[3] and by the Saviour's words, when He says that we are to swear "neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool:"[4] To the same effect also are the words of Paul, in his address to the Athenians, when he says, "In Him we live, and move, and have our being."[5] For how do we live, and move, and have our being in God, except by His comprehending and holding together the whole world by His power? And how is heaven the throne of God, and the earth His footstool, as the Saviour Himself declares, save by His power filling all things both in heaven and earth, according to the Lord's own words? And that God, the Father of all things, fills and holds together the world with the fulness of His power, according to those passages which we have quoted, no one, I think, will have any difficulty in admitting. And now, since the course of the preceding discussion has shown that the different movements of rational beings, and their varying opinions, have brought about the diversity that is in the world, we must see whether it may not be appropriate that this world should have a termination like its beginning. For there is no doubt that its end must be sought amid much diversity and variety; which variety, being found to exist in the termination of the world, will again furnish ground and occasion for the diversities of the other world which is to succeed the present.

4. If now, in the course of our discussion, it has been ascertained that these things are so, it seems to follow that we next consider the nature of corporeal being, seeing the diversity in the world cannot exist without bodies. It is evident from the nature of things themselves, that bodily nature admits of diversity and variety of change, so that it is capable of undergoing all possible transformations, as, e.g., the conversion of wood into fire, of fire into smoke, of smoke into air, of oil into fire. Does not food itself, whether of man or of animals, exhibit the same ground of change? For whatever we take as food, is converted into the substance of our body. But how water is changed into earth or into air, and air again into fire, or fire into air, or air into water, although not difficult to explain, yet on the present occasion it is enough merely to mention them, as our object is to discuss the nature of bodily matter. By matter, therefore, we understand that which is placed under bodies, viz., that by which, through the bestowing and implanting of qualities, bodies exist; and we mention four qualities--heat, cold, dryness, humidity. These four qualities being implanted in the <greek>ulh</greek>, or matter (for matter is found to exist in its own nature without those qualities before mentioned), produce the different kinds of bodies. Although this matter is, as we have said above, according to its own proper nature without qualities, it is never found to exist without a quality. And I cannot understand how so many distinguished men have been of opinion that this matter, which is so great, and possesses such properties as to enable it to be sufficient for all the bodies in the world which God willed to exist, and to be the attendant and slave of the Creator for whatever forms and species He wished in all things, receiving into itself whatever qualities He desired to bestow upon it, was uncreated, i.e., not formed by God Himself, who is the Creator of all things, but that its nature and power were the result of chance. And I am astonished that they should find fault with those who deny either God's creative power or His providential administration of the world, and accuse them of impiety for thinking that so great a work as the world could exist without an architect or overseer; while they themselves incur a similar charge of impiety in saying that matter is uncreated, and co-eternal with the uncreated God. According to this view, then, if we suppose for the sake of argument that matter did not exist, as these maintain, saying that God could not create anything when nothing existed, without doubt He would have been idle, not having matter on which to operate, which matter they say was furnished Him not by His own arrangement, but by accident; and they think that this, which was discovered by chance, was able to suffice Him for an undertaking of so vast an extent, and for the manifestation of the power of His might, and by admitting the plan of all His wisdom, might be distinguished and formed into a world. Now this appears to me to be very absurd, and to be the opinion of those men who are altogether ignorant of the power and intelligence of un-crested nature. But that we may see the nature of things a little more clearly, let it be granted that for a little time matter did not exist, and that God, when nothing formerly existed, caused those things to come into existence which He desired, why are we to suppose that God would create matter either better or greater, or of another kind, than that which He did produce from His own power and wisdom, in order that that might exist which formerly did not? Would He cream a worse and inferior matter, or one the same as that which they call uncreated? Now I think it will very easily appear to any one, that neither a better nor inferior matter could have assumed the forms and species of the world, if it had not been such as that which actually did assume them. And does it not then seem impious to call that uncreated, which, if believed to be formed by God, would doubtless be found to be such as that which they call uncreated?

5. But that we may believe on the authority of holy Scripture that such is the case, hear how in the book of Maccabees, where the mother of seven martyrs exhorts her son to endure torture, this truth is confirmed; for she says, "I ask of thee, my son, to look at the heaven and the earth, and at all things which are in them, and beholding these, to know that God made all these things when they did not exist."[1] In the book of the Shepherd also, in the first commandment, he speaks as follows: "First of all believe that there is one God who created and arranged all things, and made all things to come into existence, and out of a state of nothingness."[2] Perhaps also the expression in the Psalms has reference to this: "He spake, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created."[3] For the words, "He spake, and they were made," appear to show that the substance of those things which exist is meant; while the others, "He commanded, and they were created," seem spoken of the qualities by which the substance itself has been moulded.

CHAP. II. -- ON THE PERPETUITY OF BODILY NATURE.

1. On this topic some are wont to inquire whether, as the Father generates an uncreated Son, and brings forth a Holy Spirit, not as if He had no previous existence, but because the Father is the origin and source of the Son or Holy Spirit, and no anteriority or posteriority can be understood as existing in them; so also a similar kind of union or relationship can be understood as subsisting between rational natures and bodily matter. And that this point may be more fully and thoroughly examined, the commencement of the discussion is generally directed to the inquiry whether this very bodily nature, which bears the lives and contains the movements of spiritual and rational minds, will be equally eternal with them, or will altogether perish and be destroyed. And that the question may be determined with greater precision, we have, in the first place, to inquire if it is possible for rational natures to remain altogether incorporeal after they have reached the summit of holiness and happiness (which seems to me a most difficult and almost impossible attainment), or whether they must always of necessity be united to bodies. If, then, any one could show a reason why it was possible for them to dispense wholly with bodies, it will appear to follow,: hat as a bodily nature, created out of nothing after intervals of time, was produced when it did not exist, so also it must cease to be when the purposes which it served had no longer an existence.

2. If, however, it is impossible for this point to be at all maintained, viz., that any other nature than the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can live without a body, the necessity of logical reasoning compels us to understand that rational natures were indeed created at the beginning, but that material substance was separated from them only in thought and understanding, and appears to have been formed for them, or after them, and that they never have lived nor do live without it; for an incorporeal life will rightly be considered a prerogative of the Trinity alone. As we have remarked above, therefore, that material substance of this world, possessing a nature admitting of all possible transformations, is, when dragged down to beings of a lower order, moulded into the crasser and more solid condition of a body, so as to distinguish those visible and varying forms of the world; but when it becomes the servant of more perfect and more blessed beings, it shines in the splendour of celestial bodies, and adorns either the angels of God or the sons of the resurrection with the clothing of a spiritual body, out of all which will be filled up the diverse and varying state of the one world. But if any one should desire to discuss these matters more fully, it will be necessary, with all reverence and fear of God, to examine the sacred Scriptures with greater attention and diligence, to ascertain whether the secret and hidden sense within them may perhaps reveal anything regarding these matters; and something may be discovered in their abstruse and mysterious language, through the demonstration of the Holy Spirit to those who are worthy, after many testimonies have been collected on this very point.

CHAP. III. -- ON THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD, AND ITS CAUSES.

1. The next subject of inquiry is, whether there was any other world before the one which now exists; and if so, whether it was such as the present, or somewhat different, or inferior; or whether there was no world at all, but something like that which we understand will be after the end of all things, when the kingdom shall be delivered up to God, even the Father; which nevertheless may have been the end of another world,--of that, namely, after which this world took its beginning; and whether the various lapses of intellectual natures provoked God to produce this diverse and varying condition of the world. This point also, I think, must be investigated in a similar way, viz., whether after this world there will be any (system of) preservation and amendment, severe indeed, and attended with much pain to those who were unwilling to obey the word of God, but a process through which, by means of instruction and rational training, those may arrive at a fuller understanding of the truth who have devoted themselves in the present life to these pursuits, and who, after having had their minds purified, have advanced onwards so as to become capable of attaining divine wisdom; and after this the end of all things will immediately follow, and there will be again, for the correction and improvement of those who stand in need of it, another world, either resembling that which now exists, or better than it, or greatly inferior; and how long that world, whatever it be that is to come after this, shall continue; and if there will be a time when no world shall anywhere exist, or if there has been a time when there was no world at all; or if there have been, or will be several; or if it shall ever come to pass that there will be one resembling another, like it in every respect, and indistinguishable from it.

2. That it may appear more clearly, then, whether bodily matter can exist during intervals of time, and whether, as it did not exist before it was made, so it may again be resolved into non-existence, let us see, first of all, whether it is possible for any one to live without a body. For if one person can live without a body, all things also may dispense with them; seeing our former treatise has shown that all things tend towards one end. Now, if all things may exist without bodies, there will undoubtedly be no bodily substance, seeing there will be no use for it. But how shall we understand the words of the apostle in those passages, in which, discussing the resurrection of the dead, he says, "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. When this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying which is written, Death is swallowed up in victory ! Where, O death, is thy victory? O death, thy sting has been swallowed up: the sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law."[1] Some such meaning, then, as this, seems to be suggested by the apostle. For can the expression which he employs, "this corruptible," and "this mortal," with the gesture, as it were, of one who touches or points out, apply to anything else than to bodily matter? This matter of the body, then, which is now corruptible shall put on incorruption when a perfect soul, and one furnished with the marks[2] of incorruption, shall have begun to inhabit it. And do not be surprised if we speak of a perfect soul as the clothing of the body (which, on account of the Word of God and His wisdom, is now named incorruption), when Jesus Christ Himself, who is the Lord and Creator of the soul, is said to be the clothing of the saints, according to the language of the apostle, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ."[3] As Christ, then, is the clothing of the soul, so for a kind of reason sufficiently intelligible is the soul said to be the clothing of the body, seeing it is an ornament to it, covering and concealing its mortal nature. The expression, then, "This corruptible must put on incorruption," is as if the apostle had said, "This corruptible nature of the body must receive the clothing of incorruption--a soul possessing in itself incorruptibitity," because it has been clothed with Christ, who is the Wisdom and Word of God. But when this body, which at some future period we shall possess in a more glorious state, shall have become a partaker of life, it will then, in addition to being immortal, become also incorruptible. For whatever is mortal is necessarily also corruptible; but whatever is corruptible cannot also be said to be mortal. We say of a stone or a piece of wood that it is corruptible, but we do not say that it follows that it is also mortal. But as the body partakes of life, then because life may be, and is, separated from it, we consequently name it mortal, and according to another sense also we speak of it as corruptible. The holy apostle therefore, with remarkable insight, referring to the general first cause of bodily matter, of which (matter), whatever be the qualities with which it is endowed (now indeed carnal, but by and by more refined and pure, which are termed spiritual), the soul makes constant use, says, "This corruptible must put on incorruption." And in the second place, looking to the special cause of the body, he says, "This mortal must put on immortality." Now, what else will in-corruption and immortality be, save the wisdom, and the word, and the righteousness of God, which mould; and clothe, and adorn the soul? And hence it happens that it is said, "The corruptible will put on incorruption, and the mortal immortality." For although we may now make great proficiency, yet as we only know in part, and prophesy in part, and see through a glass, darkly, those very things which we seem to understand, this corruptible does not yet put on incorruption, nor is this mortal yet clothed with immorality; and as this training of ours in the body is protracted doubtless to a longer period, up to the time, viz., when those very bodies of ours with which we are enveloped may, on account of the word of God, and His wisdom and perfect righteousness, earn incorruptibility and immortality, therefore is it said, "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."

3. But, nevertheless, those who think that rational creatures can at any time lead an existence out of the body, may here raise such questions as the following. If it is true that this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality, and that death is swallowed up at the end; this shows that nothing else than a material nature is to be destroyed, on which death could operate, while the mental acumen of those who are in the body seems to be blunted by the nature of corporeal matter. If, however, they are out of the body, then they will altogether escape the annoyance arising from a disturbance of that kind. But as they will not be able immediately to escape all bodily clothing, they are just to be considered as inhabiting more refined and purer bodies, which possess the property of being no longer overcome by death, or of being wounded by its sting; so that at last, by the gradual disappearance of the material nature, death is both swallowed up, and even at the end exterminated, and all its sting completely blunted by the divine grace which the soul has been rendered capable of receiving, and has thus deserved to obtain incorruptibility and immortality. And then it will be deservedly said by all, "O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin." If these conclusions, then, seem to hold good, it follows that we must believe our condition at some future time to be incorporeal; and if this is admitted, and all are said to be subjected to Christ, this (incorporeity) also must necessarily be bestowed on all to whom the subjection to Christ extends; since all who are subject to Christ will be in the end subject to God the Father, to whom Christ is said to deliver up the kingdom; and thus it appears that then also the need of bodies will cease.[1] And if it ceases, bodily matter returns to nothing, as formerly also it did not exist.

Now let us see what can be said in answer to those who make these assertions. For it will appear to be a necessary consequence that, if bodily nature be annihilated, it must be again restored and created; since it seems a possible thing that rational natures, from whom the faculty of free-will is never taken away, may be again subjected to movements of some kind, through the special act of the Lord Himself, lest perhaps, if they were always to occupy a condition that was unchangeable, they should be ignorant that it is by the grace of God and not by their own merit that they have been placed in that final state of happiness; and these movements will undoubtedly again be attended by variety and diversity of bodies, by which the world is always adorned; nor will it ever be composed (of anything) save of variety and diversity,--an effect which cannot be produced without a bodily matter.

4. And now I do not understand by what proofs they can maintain their position, who assert that worlds sometimes come into existence which are not dissimilar to each other, but in all respects equal. For if there is said to be a world similar in all respects (to the present), then it will come to pass that Adam and Eve will do the same things which they did before: there will be a second time the same deluge, and the same Moses will again lead a nation numbering nearly six hundred thousand out of Egypt; Judas will also a second time betray the Lord; Paul will a second time keep the garments of those who stoned Stephen; and everything which has been done in this life will be said to be repeated,--a state of things which I think cannot be established by any reasoning, if souls are actuated by freedom of will, and maintain either their advance or retrogression according to the power of their will. For souls are not driven on in a cycle which returns after many ages to the same round, so as either to do or desire this or that; but at whatever point the freedom of their own will aims, thither do they direct the course of their actions. For what these persons say is much the same as if one were to assert that if a medimnus of grain were to be poured out on the ground, the fall of the grain would be on the second occasion identically the same as on the first, so that every individual grain would lie for the second time close beside that grain where it had been thrown before, and so the medimnus would be scattered in the same order, and with the same marks as formerly; which certainly is an impossible result with the countless grains of a medimnus, even if they were to be poured out without ceasing for many ages. So therefore it seems to me impossible for a world to be restored for the second time, with the same order and with the same amount of births, and deaths, and actions; but that a diversity of worlds may exist with changes of no unimportant kind, so that the state of another world may be for some unmistakeable reasons better (than this), and for others worse, and for others again intermediate. But what may be the number or measure of this I confess myself ignorant, although, if any one can tell it, I would gladly learn.

5. But this world, which is itself called an age, is said to be the conclusion of many ages. Now the holy apostle teaches that in that age which preceded this, Christ did not suffer, nor even in the age which preceded that again; and I know not that I am able to enumerate the number of anterior ages in which He did not suffer. I will show, however, from what statements of Paul I have arrived at this understanding. He says, "But now once in the consummation of ages, He was manifested to take away sin by the sacrifice of Himself."[1] For He says that He was once made a victim, and in the consummation of ages was manifested to take away sin. Now that after this age, which is said to be formed for the consummation of other ages, there will he other ages again to follow, we have clearly learned from Paul himself, who says, "That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us."[2] He has not said, "in the age to come," nor "in the two ages to come," whence I infer that by his language many ages are indicated. Now if there is something greater than ages, so that among created beings certain ages may be understood, but among other beings which exceed and surpass visible creatures, (ages still greater) (which perhaps will be the case at the restitution of all things, when the whole universe will come to a perfect termination), perhaps that period in which the consummation of all things will take place is to be understood as something more than an age. But here the authority of holy Scripture moves me, which says, "For an age and more."[3] Now this word "more" undoubtedly means something greater than an age; and see if that expression of the Saviour, "I will that where I am, these also may be with Me; and as I and Thou are one, these also may be one in Us,"[4] may not seem to convey something more than an age and ages, perhaps even more than ages of ages, -- that period, viz., when all things are now no longer in an age, but when God is in all.

6. Having discussed these points regarding the nature of the world to the best of our ability, it does not seem out of place to inquire what is the meaning of the term world, which in holy Scripture is shown frequently to have different significations. For what we call in Latin mundus, is termed in Greek <greek>kosmos</greek>, and <greek>kosmos</greek> signifies not only a world, but also an ornament. Finally, in Isaiah, where the language of reproof is directed to the chief daughters of Sion, and where he says, "Instead of an ornament of a golden head, thou wilt have baldness on account of thy works,"[5] he employs the same term to denote ornament as to denote the world, viz., <greek>kosmos</greek> . For the plan of the world is said to be contained in the clothing of the high priest, as we find in the Wisdom of Solomon, where he says, "For in the long garment was the whole world."[6] That earth of ours, with its inhabitants, is also termed the world, as when Scripture says, "The whole world lieth in wickedness."[7] Clement indeed, a disciple of the apostles, makes mention of those whom the Greeks called 'A<greek>ntikqones</greek>, and other parts of the earth, to which no one of our people can approach, nor can any one of those who are there cross over to us, which he also termed worlds, saying, "The ocean is impassable to men; and those are words which are on the other side of it, which are governed by these same arrangements of the ruling God."[8] That universe which is bounded by heaven and earth is also called a world, as Paul declares: "For the fashion of this world will pass away."[9] Our Lord and Saviour also points out a certain other world besides this visible one, which it would indeed be difficult to describe and make known. He says, "I am not of this world."[10] For, as if He were of a certain other world, He says, "I am not of this world." Now, of this world we have said beforehand, that the explanation was difficult; and for this reason, that there might not be afforded to any an occasion of entertaining the supposition that we maintain the existence of certain images which the Greeks call "ideas:" for it is certainly alien to our (writers) to speak of an incorporeal world existing in the imagination alone, or in the fleeting. world of thoughts; and how they can assert either that the Saviour comes from thence, or that the saints will go thither, I do not see. There is no doubt, however, that something more illustrious and excellent than this present world is pointed out by the Saviour, at which He incites and encourages believers to aim. But whether that world to which He desires to allude be far separated and divided from this either by situation, or nature, or glory; or whether it be superior in glory and quality, but confined within the limits of this world (which seems to me more probable), is nevertheless uncertain, and in my opinion an unsuitable subject for human thought. But from what Clement seems to indicate when he says, "The ocean is impassable to men, and those worlds which are behind it," speaking in the plural number of the worlds which are behind it, which he intimates are administered and governed by the same providence of the Most High God, he appears to throw out to us some germs of that view by which the whole universe of existing things, celestial and super-celestial, earthly and infernal, is generally called one perfect world, within which, or by which, other worlds, if any there are, must be supposed to be contained. For which reason he wished the globe of the sun or moon, and of the other bodies called planets, to be each termed worlds. Nay, even that pre-eminent globe itself which they call the non-wandering (<greek>aplanh</greek>), they nevertheless desire to have properly called world. Finally, they summon the book of Baruch the prophet to bear witness to this assertion, because in it the seven worlds or heavens are more clearly pointed out. Nevertheless, above that sphere which they call non-wandering (<greek>aplanh</greek>), they will have another sphere to exist, which they say, exactly as our heaven contains all things which are under it, comprehends by its immense size and indescribable extent the spaces of all the spheres together within its more magnificent circumference; so that all things are within it, as this earth of ours is under heaven. And this also is believed to be called in the holy Scriptures the good land, and the land of the living, having its own heaven, which is higher, and in which the names of the saints are said to be written, or to have been written, by the Saviour; by which heaven that earth is confined and shut in, which the Saviour in the Gospel promises to the meek and merciful. For they would have this earth of ours, which formerly was named "Dry," to have derived its appellation from the name of that earth, as this heaven also was named firmament from the title of that heaven. But we have treated at greater length of such opinions in the place where we had to inquire into the meaning of the declaration, that in the beginning "God made the heavens and the earth." For another heaven and another earth are shown to exist besides that "firmanent" which is said to have been made after the second day, or that "dry land" which was afterwards called "earth." Certainly, what some say of this world, that it is corruptible because it was made, and yet is not corrupted, because the will of God, who made it and holds it together lest corruption should rule over it, is stronger and more powerful than corruption, may more correctly be supposed of that world which we have called above a "non-wandering "sphere, since by the will of God it is not at all subject to corruption, for the reason that it has not admired any causes of corruption, seeing it is the world of the saints and of the thoroughly purified, and not of the wicked, like that world of ours. We must see, moreover, lest perhaps it is with reference to this that the apostle says, "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are unseen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."[1] And when he says elsewhere, "Because I shall see the heavens, the works of Thy fingers,"[2] and when God said, regarding all things visible, by the mouth of His prophet, "My hand has formed all these things,"[3] He declares that that eternal house in the heavens which He promises to His saints was not made with hands, pointing out, doubtless, the difference of creation in things which are seen and in those which are not seen. For the same thing is not to be understood by the expressions, "those things which are not seen," and "those things which are invisible." For those things which are invisible are not only not seen, but do not even possess the property of visibility, being what the Greeks call <greek>aswmata</greek>, i.e., incorporeal; whereas those of which Paul says, "They are not seen," possess indeed the property of being seen, but, as he explains, are not yet beheld by those to whom they are promised.

7. Having sketched, then, so far as we could understand, these three opinions regarding the end of all things, and the supreme blessedness, let each one of our readers determine for himself, with care and diligence, whether any one of them can be approved and adopted.[1] For it has been said that we must suppose either that an incorporeal existence is possible, after all things have become subject to Christ, and through Christ to God the Father, when God, will be all and in all; or that when, notwithstanding all things have been made subject to Christ, and through Christ to God (with whom they formed also one spirit, in respect of spirits being rational natures), then the bodily substance itself also being united to most pure and excellent spirits, and being changed into an ethereal condition in proportion to the quality or merits of those who assume it (according to the apostle's words, "We also shall be changed"), will shine forth in splendour; or at least that when the fashion of those things which are seen passes away, and all corruption has been shaken off and cleansed away, and when the whole of the space occupied by this world, in which the spheres of the planets are said to be, has been left behind and beneath,[2] then is reached the fixed abode of the pious and the good situated above that sphere, which is called non-wandering (<greek>aplanhs</greek>), as in a good land, in a land of the living, which will be inherited by the meek and gentle; to which land belongs that heaven (which, with its more magnificent extent, surrounds and contains that land itself) which is called truly and chiefly heaven, in which heaven and earth, the end and perfection of all things, may be safely and most confidently placed,--where, viz., these, after their apprehension and their chastisement for the offences which they have undergone by way of purgation, may, after having fulfilled and discharged every obligation, deserve a habitation in that land; while those who have been obedient to the word of God, and have henceforth by their obedience shown themselves capable of wisdom, are said to deserve the kingdom of that heaven or heavens; and thus the prediction is more worthily fulfilled, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth;"[3] and, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven;"[4] and the declaration in the Psalm, "He shall exalt thee, and thou shalt inherit the land."[5] For it is called a descent to this earth, but an exaltation to that which is on high. In this way, therefore, does a sort of road seem to be opened up by the departure of the saints from that earth to those heavens; so that they do not so much appear to abide in that land, as to inhabit it with an intention, viz., to pass on to the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven, when they have reached that degree of perfection also.

CHAP. IV.--THE GOD OF THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS, AND THE FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, IS THE SAME GOD.

1. Having now briefly arranged these points in order as we best could, it follows that, agreeably to our intention from the first, we refute those who think that the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is a different God from Him who gave the answers of the law to Moses, or commissioned the prophets, who is the God of our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For in this article of faith, first of all, we must be firmly grounded. We have to consider, then, the expression of frequent recurrence in the Gospels, and subjoined to all the acts of our Lord and Saviour, "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by this or that prophet," it being manifest that the prophets are the prophets of that God who made the world. From this therefore we draw the conclusion, that He who sent the prophets, Himself predicted what was to be foretold of Christ. And there is no doubt that the Father Himself, and not another different from Him, uttered these predictions. The practice, moreover, of the Saviour or His apostles, frequently quoting illustrations from the Old Testament, shows that they attribute authority to the ancients. The injunction also of the Saviour, when exhorting His disciples to the exercise of kindness, "Be ye perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect; for He commands His sun to rise upon the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust,"[6] most evidently suggests even to a person of feeble understanding, that He is proposing to the imitation of His disciples no other God than the maker of heaven and the bestower of the rain. Again, what else does the expression, which ought to be used by those who pray, "Our Father who art in heaven,"[7] appear to indicate, save that God is to be sought in the better parts of the world, i.e., of His creation? Further, do not those admirable principles which He lays down respecting oaths, saying that we ought not to "swear either by heaven, because it is the throne of God; nor by the earth, because it is His footstool,"[1] harmonize most clearly with the words of the prophet, "Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool?"[2] And also when casting out of the temple those who sold sheep, and oxen, and doves, and pouring out the tables of the money-changers, and saying, "Take these things, hence, and do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise,"[3] He undoubtedly called Him His Father, to whose name Solomon had raised a magnificent temple. The words, moreover, "Have you not read what was spoken by God to Moses: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; He is not a God of the dead, but of the living,"[4] most clearly teach us, that He called the God of the patriarchs (because they were holy, and were alive) the God of the living, the same, viz., who had said in the prophets, "I am God, and besides Me there is no God."[5] For if the Saviour, knowing that He who is written in the law is the God of Abraham, and that it is the same who says, "I am God, and besides Me there is no God, acknowledges that very one to be His Father who is ignorant of the existence of any other God above Himself, as the heretics suppose, He absurdly declares Him to be His Father who does not know of a greater God. But if it is not from ignorance, but from deceit, that He says there is no other God than Himself, then it is a much greater absurdity to confess that His Father is guilty of falsehood. From all which this conclusion is arrived at, that He knows of no other Father than God, the Founder and Creator of all things.

2. It would be tedious to collect out of all the passages in the Gospels the proofs by which the God of the law and of the Gospels is shown to be one and the same. Let us touch briefly upon the Acts of the Apostles,[6] where Stephen and the other apostles address their prayers to that God who made heaven and earth, and who spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, calling Him the "God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob;" the God who "brought forth His people out of the land of Egypt." Which expressions undoubtedly clearly direct our understandings to faith in the Creator, and implant an affection for Him in those who have learned piously and faithfully thus to think of Him; according to the words of the Saviour Himself, who, when He was asked which was the greatest commandment in the law, replied, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." And to these He added: "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."[7] How is it, then, that He commends to him whom He was instructing, and was leading to enter on the office of a disciple, this commandment above all others, by which undoubtedly love was to be kindled in him towards the God of that law, inasmuch as such had been declared by the law in these very words? But let it be granted, notwithstanding all these most evident proofs, that it is of some other unknown God that the Saviour says, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart," etc., etc. How, in that case, if the law and the prophets are, as they say, from the Creator, i.e., from another God than He whom He calls good, shall that appear to be logically said which He subjoins, viz., that "on these two commandments hang the law and the prophets?" For how shall that which is strange and foreign to God depend upon Him? And when Paul says, "I thank my God, whom I serve my spirit from my forefathers with pure conscience,"[8] he clearly shows that he came not to some new God, but to Christ. For what other forefathers of Paul can be intended, except those of whom he says, "Are they Hebrews? so am I: are they Israelites? so am I."[9] Nay, will not the very preface of his Epistle to the Romans clearly show the same thing to those who know how to understand the letters of Paul, viz., what God he preaches? For his words are: "Paul, the servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart to the Gospel of God, which He had promised afore by His prophets in the holy Scriptures concerning His Son, who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead of Christ Jesus our Lord,"[10]etc. Moreover, also the following, "Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he that plougheth should plough in hope, and he that thresheth in hope of partaking of the fruits."[11] By which he manifestly shows that God, who gave the law on our account, i.e., on account of the apostles, says, "Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn;" whose care was not for oxen, but for the apostles, who were preaching the Gospel of Christ. In other passages also, Paul, embracing the promises of the law, says, "Honour thy father and thy mother, which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and that thy days may be long upon the land, the good land, which the Lord thy God will give thee."[1] By which he undoubtedly makes known that the law, and the God of the law, and His promises, are pleasing to him.

3. But as those who uphold this heresy are sometimes accustomed to mislead the hearts of the simple by certain deceptive sophisms, I do not consider it improper to bring forward the assertions which they are in the habit of making, and to refute their deceit and falsehood. The following, then, are their declarations. It is written, that "no man hath seen God at any time."[2] But that God whom Moses preaches was both seen by Moses himself, and by his fathers before him; whereas He who is announced by the Saviour has never been seen at all by any one. Let us therefore ask them and ourselves whether they maintain that He whom they acknowledge to be God, and allege to be a different God from the Creator, is visible or invisible. And if they shall say that He is visible, besides being proved to go against the declaration of Scripture, which says of the Saviour, "He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature,"[3] they will fall also into the absurdity of asserting that God is corporeal. For nothing can be seen except by help of form, and size, and colour, which are special properties of bodies. And if God is declared to be a body, then He will also be found to be material, since every body is composed of matter. But if He be composed of matter, and matter is undoubtedly corruptible, then, according to them, God is liable to corruption! We shall put to them a second question. Is matter made, or is it uncreated, i.e., not made? And if they shall answer that it is not made, i.e., uncreated, we shall ask them if one portion of matter is God, and the other part the world? But if they shall say of matter that it is made, it will undoubtedly follow that they confess Him whom they declare to be God to have been made!--a result which certainly neither their reason nor ours can admit. But they will say, God is invisible. And what will you do? If you say that He is invisible by nature, then neither ought He to be visible to the Saviour. Whereas, on the contrary, God, the Father of Christ, is said to be seen, because "he who sees the Son," he says, "sees also the Father."[4] This certainly would press us very hard, were the expression not understood by us more correctly of understanding, and not of seeing. For he who has understood the Son will understand the Father also. In this way, then, Moses too must be supposed to have seen God, not beholding Him with the bodily eye, but understanding Him with the vision of the heart and the perception of the mind, and that only in some degree. For it is manifest that He, viz., who gave answers to Moses, said, "You shall not see My face, but My hinder parts."[5] These words are, of course, to be understood in that mystical sense which is befitting divine words, those old wives' fables being rejected and despised which are invented by ignorant persons respecting the anterior and posterior parts of God. Let no one indeed suppose that we have indulged any feeling of impiety in saying that even to the Saviour the Father is not visible. Let him consider the distinction which we employ in dealing with heretics. For we have explained that it is one thing to see and to be seen, and another to know and to be known, or to understand and to be understood.[6] To see, then, and to be seen, is a property of bodies, which certainly will not be appropriately applied either to the Father, or to the Son, or to the Holy Spirit, in their mutual relations with one another. For the nature of the Trinity surpasses the measure of vision, granting to those who are in the body, i.e., to all other creatures, the property of vision in reference to one another. But to a nature that is incorporeal and for the most part intellectual, no other attribute is appropriate save that of knowing or being known, as the Saviour Himself declares when He says, "No man knoweth the Son, save the Father; nor does any one know the Father, save the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him."[7] It is clear, then, that He has not said, "No one has seen the Father, save the Son;" but, "No one knoweth the Father, save the Son."

4. And now, if, on account of those expressions which occur in the Old Testament, as when God is said to be angry or to repent, or when any other human affection or passion is described, (our opponents) think that they are furnished with grounds for refuting us, who maintain that God is altogether impassible, and is to be regarded as wholly free from all affections of that kind, we have to show them that similar statements are found even in the parables of the Gospel; as when it is said, that he who planted a vineyard, and let it out to husbandmen, who slew the servants that were sent to them, and at last put to death even the son, is said in anger to have taken away the vineyard from them, and to have delivered over the wicked husbandmen to destruction, and to have handed over the vineyard to others, who would yield him the fruit in its season. And so also with regard to those citizens who, when the head of the household had set out to receive for himself a kingdom, sent messengers after him, saying, "We will not have this man to reign over us;''[1] for the head of the household having obtained the kingdom, returned, and in anger commanded them to be put to death before him, and burned their city with fire. But when we read either in the Old Testament or in the New of the anger of God, we do not take such expressions literally, but seek in them a spiritual meaning, that we may think of God as He deserves to be thought of. And on these points, when expounding the verse in the second Psalm, "Then shall He speak to them in His anger, and trouble them in His fury,''[2] we showed, to the best of our poor ability, how such an expression ought to be understood.

CHAP. V.--ON JUSTICE AND GOODNESS.

1. Now, since this consideration has weight with some, that the leaders of that heresy (of which we have been speaking) think they have established a kind of division, according to which they have declared that justice is one thing and goodness another, and have applied this division even to divine things, maintaining that the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is indeed a good God, but not a just one, whereas the God of the law and the prophets is just, but not good; I think it necessary to return, with as much brevity as possible, an answer to these statements. These persons, then, consider goodness to be some such affection as would have benefits conferred on all, although the recipient of them be unworthy and undeserving of any kindness; but here, in my opinion, they have not rightly applied their definition, inasmuch as they think that no benefit is conferred on him who is visited with any suffering or calamity. Justice, on the other hand, they view as .that quality which rewards every one according to his deserts. But here, again, they do not rightly interpret the meaning of their own definition. For they think that it is just to send evils upon the wicked and benefits upon the good; i.e., so that, according to their view, the just God does not appear to wish well to the bad, but to be animated by a kind of hatred against them. And they gather together instances of this, Wherever they find a history in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, relating, e.g., the punishment of the deluge, or the fate of those who are described as perishing in it, or the, destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by a shower of fire and brimstone, or the falling of all the people in the wilderness on account of their sins, so that none of those who had left Egypt were found to have entered the promised land, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb. Whereas from the New Testament they gather together words of compassion and piety, through which the disciples are trained by the Saviour, and by which it seems to be declared that no one is good save God the Father only; and by this means they have ventured to style the Father of the Saviour Jesus Christ a good God, but to say that the God of the world is a different one, whom they are pleased to term just, but not also good.

2. Now I think they must, in the first place, be required to show, if they can, agreeably to their own definition, that the Creator is just in punishing according to their deserts, either those who perished at the time of the deluge, or the inhabitants of Sodom, or those who had quitted Egypt, seeing we sometimes behold committed crimes more wicked and detestable than those for which the above-mentioned persons were destroyed, while we do not yet sere every sinner paying the penalty of his misdeeds. Will they say that He who at one time was just has been made good? Or will they rather be of opinion that He is even now just, but is patiently enduring human offences, while that then He was not even just, inasmuch as He exterminated innocent and sucking children along with cruel and ungodly giants? Now, such are their opinions, because they know not how to understand anything beyond the letter; otherwise they would show how it is literal justice for sins to be visited upon the heads of children to the third and fourth generation, and on children's children after them. By us, however, such things are not understood literally; but, as Ezekiel taught[3] when relating the parable, we inquire what is the inner meaning contained in the parable itself. Moreover, they ought to explain this also, how He is just, and rewards every one according to his merits, who punishes earthly-minded persons and the devil, seeing they have done nothing worthy of punishment.[4] For they could not do any good if, according to them, they were of a wicked and ruined nature. For as they style Him a judge, He appears to be a judge not so much of actions as of natures; and if a bad nature cannot do good, neither can a good nature do evil. Then, in the next place, if He whom the), call good is good to all, He is undoubtedly good also to those who are destined to perish. And why does He not save them? If He does not desire to do so, He will be no longer good; if He does desire it, and cannot effect it, He will not be omnipotent. Why do they not rather hear the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospels, preparing fire for the devil and his angels? And how shall that proceeding, as penal as it is sad, appear to be, according to their view, the work of the good God? Even the Saviour Himself, the Son of the good God, protests in the Gospels, and declares that "if signs and wonders had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented[1] long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes." And when He had come near to those very cities, and had entered their territory, why, pray, does He avoid entering those cities, and exhibiting to them abundance of signs and wonders, if it were certain that they would have repented, after they had been performed, in sackcloth and ashes? But as He does not do this, He undoubtedly abandons to destruction those whom the language of the Gospel shows not to have been of a wicked or mined nature, inasmuch as it declares they were capable of repentance. Again, in a certain parable of the Gospel, where the king enters in to see the guests reclining at the banquet, he beheld a certain individual not clothed with wedding raiment, and said. to him, "Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment?" and then ordered his servants, "Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."[2] Let them tell us who is that king who entered in to see the guests, and finding one amongst them with unclean garments, commanded him to be bound by his servants, and thrust out into outer darkness. Is he the same whom they call just? How then had he commanded good and bad alike to be invited, without directing their merits to be inquired into by his servants? By such procedure would be indicated, not the character of a just God who rewards according to men's deserts, as they assert, but of one who displays undiscriminating goodness towards all. Now, if this must necessarily be understood of the good God, i.e., either of Christ or of the Father of Christ, what other objection can they bring against the justice of God's judgment? Nay, what else is there so unjust charged by them against the God of the law as to order him who had been invited by His servants, whom He had sent to call good and bad alike, to be bound hand and foot, and to be thrown into outer darkness, because he had on unclean garments?

3. And now, what we have drawn from the authority of Scripture ought to be sufficient to refute the arguments of the heretics. It will not, however, appear improper if we discuss the matter with them shortly, on the grounds of reason itself. We ask them, then, if they know what is regarded among men as the ground of virtue and wickedness, and if it appears to follow that we can speak of virtues in God, or, as they think, in these two Gods. Let them give an answer also to the question, whether they consider goodness to be a virtue; and as they will undoubtedly admit it to be so, what will they say of injustice? They will never certainly, in my opinion, be so foolish as to deny that justice is a virtue. Accordingly, if virtue is a blessing, and justice is a virtue, then without doubt justice is goodness. But if they say that justice is not a blessing, it must either be an evil or an indifferent thing. Now I think it folly to return any answer to those who say that justice is an evil, for I shall have the appearance of replying either to senseless words, or to men out of their minds. How can that appear an evil which is able to reward the good with blessings, as they themselves also admit? But if they say that it is a thing of indifference, it follows that since justice is so, sobriety also, and prudence, and all the other virtues, are things of indifference. And what answer shall we make to Paul, when he says, "If there be any virtue, and, if there be any praise, think on these things, which ye have learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me?"[3] Let them learn, therefore, by searching the holy Scriptures, what are the individual virtues, and not deceive themselves by saying that that God who rewards every one according to his merits, does, through hatred of evil, recompense the wicked with evil, and not because those who have sinned need to be treated with severer remedies, and because He applies to them those measures which, with the prospect of improvement, seem nevertheless, for the present, to produce a feeling of pain. They do not read what is written respecting the hope of those who were destroyed in the deluge; of which hope Peter himself thus speaks in his first Epistle: "That Christ, indeed, was put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit, by which He went and preached to the spirits who were kept in prison, who once were unbelievers, when they awaited the long-suffering of God in the days of Noah, when the ark was preparing, in which a few, i.e., eight souls, were saved by water. Whereunto also baptism by a like figure now saves you."[4] And with regard to Sodom and Gomorrah, let them tell us whether they believe the prophetic words to be those of the Creator God--of Him, viz., who is related to have rained upon them a shower of fire and brimstone. What does Ezekiel the prophet say of them? "Sodom," he says, "shall be restored to her former condition."[1] But why, in afflicting those who are deserving of punishment, does He not afflict them for their good?--who also says to Chaldea, "Thou hast coals of fire, sit upon them; they will be a help to thee."[2] And of those also who fell in the desert, let them hear what is related in the seventy-eighth Psalm, which bears the superscription of Asaph; for he says, "When He slew them, then they sought Him."[3] He does not say that some sought Him after others had been slain, but he says that the destruction of those who were killed was of such a nature that, when put to death, they sought God. By all which it is established, that the God of the law and the Gospels is one and the same, a just and good God, and that He confers benefits justly, and punishes with kindness; since neither goodness without justice, nor justice without goodness, can display the (real) dignity of the divine nature.

We shall add the following remarks, to which we are driven by their subtleties. If justice is a different thing from goodness, then, since evil is the opposite of good, and injustice of justice, injustice will doubtless be something else than an evil; and as, in your opinion, the just man is not good, so neither will the unjust man be wicked; and again, as the good man is not just, so the wicked man also will not be unjust. But who does not see the absurdity, that to a good God one should be opposed that is evil; while to a just God, whom they allege to be inferior to the good, no one should be opposed! For there is none who can be called unjust, as there is a Satan who is called wicked. What, then, are we to do? Let us give up the position which we defend, for they will not be able to maintain that a bad man is not also unjust, and an unjust man wicked. And if these qualities be indissolubly inherent in these opposites, viz., injustice in wickedness, or wickedness in injustice, then unquestionably the good man will be inseparable from the just man, and the just from the good; so that, as we speak of one and the same wickedness in malice and injustice, we may also hold the virtue of goodness and justice to be one and the same.

4. They again recall us, however, to the words of Scripture, by bringing forward that celebrated question of theirs, affirming that it is written, "A bad tree cannot produce good fruits; for a tree is known by its fruit."[4] What, then, is their position? What sort of tree the law is, is shown by its fruits, i.e., by the language of its precepts. For if the law be found to be good, then undoubtedly He who gave it is believed to be a good God. But if it be just rather than good, then God also will be considered a just legislator. The Apostle Paul makes use of no circumlocution, when he says, "The law is good; and the commandment is holy, and just, and good."[5] From which it is clear that Paul had not learned the language of those who separate justice from goodness, but had been instructed by that God, and illuminated by His Spirit, who is at the same time both holy, and good, and just; and speaking by whose Spirit he declared that the commandment of the law was holy, and just, and good. And that he might show more clearly that goodness was in the commandment to a greater degree than justice and holiness, repeating his words, he used, instead of these three epithets, that of goodness alone, saying, "Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid."[6] As he knew that goodness was the genus of the virtues, and that justice and holiness were species belonging to the genus, and having in the former verses named genus and species together, he fell back, when repeating his words, on the genus alone. But in those which follow he says, "Sin wrought death in me by that which is good,"[6] where he sums up generically what he had beforehand explained specifically. And in this way also is to be understood the declaration, "A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth good things; and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, bringeth forth evil things."[7] For here also he assumed that there was a genus in good or evil, pointing out unquestionably that in a good man there were both justice, and temperance, and prudence, and piety, and everything that can be either called or understood to be good. In like manner also he said that a man was wicked who should without any doubt be unjust, and impure, and unholy, and everything which singly makes a bad man. For as no one considers a man to be wicked without these marks of wickedness (nor indeed can he be so), so also it is certain that without these virtues no one will be deemed to be good. There still remains to them, however, that saying of the Lord in the Gospel, which they think is given them in a special manner as a shield, viz., "There is none good but one, God the Father."[8] This word they declare is peculiar to the Father of Christ, who, however, is different from the God who is Creator of all things, to which Creator he gave no appellation of goodness. Let us see now if, in the Old Testament, the God of the prophets and the Creator and Legislator of the word is not called good. What are the expressions which occur in the Psalms? "How good is God to Israel, to the upright in heart!"[1] and, "Let Israel now say that He is good, that His mercy endureth for ever;"[2] the language in the Lamentations of Jeremiah, "The Lord is good to them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him."[3] As therefore God is frequently called good in the Old Testament, so also the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is styled just in the Gospels. Finally, in the Gospel according to John, our Lord Himself, when praying to the Father, says, "O just Father, the world hath not known Thee."[4] And lest perhaps they should say that it was owing to His having assumed human flesh that He called the Creator of the world "Father," and styled Him "Just," they are excluded from such a refuge by the words that immediately follow, "The world hath not known Thee." But, according to them, the world is ignorant of the good God alone. For the word unquestionably recognises its Creator, the Lord Himself saying that the world loveth what is its own. Clearly, then, He whom they consider to be the good God, is called just in the Gospels. Any one may at leisure gather together a greater number of proofs, consisting of those passages, where in the New Testament the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is called just, and in the Old also, where the Creator of heaven and earth is called good; so that the heretics, being convicted by numerous testimonies, may perhaps some time be put to the blush.

CHAP. VI.--ON THE INCARNATION OF CHRIST.

1. It is now time, after this cursory notice of these points, to resume our investigation of the incarnation of our Lord and Saviour, viz., how or why He became man. Having therefore, to the best of our feeble ability, considered His divine nature from the contemplation of His own works rather than from our own feelings, and having nevertheless beheld (with the eye) His visible creation while the invisible creation is seen by faith, because human frailty can neither see all things with the bodily eye nor comprehend them by reason, seeing we men are weaker and frailer than any other rational beings (for those which are in heaven, or are supposed to exist above the heaven, are superior), it remains that we seek a being intermediate between all created things and God, i.e., a Mediator, whom the Apostle Paul styles the "first-born of every creature."[5] Seeing, moreover, those declarations regarding His majesty which are contained in holy Scripture, that He is called the "image of the invisible God, and the first-born of every creature," and that "in Him were all things created, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, all things were created by Him, and in Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist,"[6] who is the head of all things, alone having as head God the Father; for it is written, "The head of Christ is God; "[7] seeing clearly also that it is written, "No one knoweth the Father, save the Son, nor doth any one know the Son, save the Father"[8] (for who can know what wisdom is, save He who called it into being? or, who can understand clearly what truth is, save the Father of truth? who can investigate with certainty the universal nature of His Word, and of God Himself, which nature proceeds from God, except God alone, with whom the Word was), we ought to regard it as certain that this Word, or Reason (if it is to be so termed), this Wisdom, this Truth, is known to no other than the Father only; and of Him it is written, that "I do not think that the world itself could contain the books which might be written,"[9] regarding, viz., the glory and majesty of the Son of God. For it is impossible to commit to writing (all) those particulars which belong to the glory of the Saviour. After the consideration of questions of such importance concerning the being of the Son of God, we are lost in the deepest amazement that such a nature, pre-eminent above all others, should have divested itself of its condition of majesty and become man, and tabernacled amongst men, as the grace that was poured upon His lips testifies, and as His heavenly Father bore Him witness, and as is confessed by the various signs and wonders and miracles[10] that were performed by Him; who also, before that appearance of His which He manifested in the body, sent the prophets as His forerunners, and the messengers of His advent; and after His ascension into heaven, made His holy apostles, men ignorant and unlearned, taken from the ranks of tax-gatherers or fishermen, but who were filled with the power of His divinity, to itinerate throughout the world, that they might gather together out of every race and every nation a multitude of devout believers in Himself.

2. But of all the marvellous and mighty acts related of Him, this altogether surpasses human admiration, and is beyond the power of mortal frailness to understand or feel, how that mighty power of divine majesty, that very Word of the Father, and that very wisdom of God, in which were created all things, visible and invisible, can be believed to have existed within the limits of that man who appeared in Judea; nay, that the Wisdom of God can have entered the womb of a woman, and have been born an infant, and have uttered wailings like the cries of little children! And that afterwards it should be related that He was greatly troubled in death, saying, as He Himself; declared, "My soul is sorrowful even unto death; "[1] and that at the last He was brought to that death which is accounted the most shameful among men, although He rose again on the third day. Since, then, we see in Him some things so human that they appear to differ in no respect from the common frailty of mortals, and some things so divine that they can appropriately belong to nothing else than to the primal and ineffable nature of Deity, the narrowness Of human understanding can find no outlet; but, overcome with the amazement of a mighty admiration, knows not whither to withdraw, or what to take hold of, or whither to turn. If it think of a God, it goes a mortal; if it think of a man; it beholds Him returning from the grave, after overthrowing the empire of death, laden with its spoils. And therefore the spectacle is to be contemplated with all fear and reverence, that the truth of both natures may be clearly shown to exist in one and the same Being; so that nothing unworthy or unbecoming may be perceived in that divine and ineffable substance nor yet those things which were done be supposed to be the illusions of imaginary appearances. To utter these things in human ears, and to explain them in words, far surpasses the powers either of our rank, or of our intellect and language. I think that it surpasses the power even of the holy apostles; nay, the explanation of that mystery may perhaps be beyond the grasp of the entire creation of celestial powers. Regarding Him, then, we shall state, in the fewest possible words, the contents of our creed rather than the assertions which human reason is wont to advance; and this from no spirit of rashness, but as called for by the nature of our arrangement, laying before you rather (what may be termed) our suspicions than any clear affirmations.

3. The Only-begotten of God, therefore, through whom, as the previous course of the discussion has shown, all things were made, visible and invisible, according to the view of Scripture, both made all things, and loves what He made. For since He is Himself the invisible image of the invisible God, He conveyed invisibly a share in Himself to all His rational creatures, so that each one obtained a part of Him exactly proportioned to the amount of affection with which he regarded Him. But since, agreeably to the faculty of free-will, variety and diversity characterized the individual souls, so that one was attached with a warmer love to the Author of its being, and another with a feebler and weaker regard, that soul (anima) regarding which Jesus said, "No one shall take my life (animam) from me,"[2] inhering, from the beginning of the creation, and afterwards, inseparably and indissolubly in Him, as being the Wisdom and Word of God, and the Truth and the true Light, and receiving Him wholly, and passing into His light and splendour, was made with Him in a pre-eminent degree[3] one spirit, according to the promise of the apostle to those who ought to imitate it, that "he who is joined in the Lord is one spirit."[4] This substance of a soul, then, being intermediate between God and the flesh--it being impossible for the nature of God to intermingle with a body without an intermediate instrument--the God-man is born, as we have said, that substance being the intermediary to whose nature it was not contrary to assume a body. But neither, on the other hand, was it opposed to the nature of that soul, as a rational existence, to receive God, into whom, as stated above, as into the Word, and the Wisdom, and the Truth, it had already wholly entered. And therefore deservedly is it also called, along with the flesh which it had assumed, the Son of God, and the Power of God, the Christ, and the Wisdom of God, either because it was wholly in the Son of God, or because it received the Son of God wholly into itself. And again, the Son of God, through whom all things were created, is named Jesus Christ and the Son of man. For the Son of God also is said to have died--in reference, viz., to that nature which could admit of death; and He is called the Son of man, who is announced as about to come in the glory of God the Father, with the holy angels. And for this reason, throughout the whole of Scripture, not only is the divine nature spoken of in human words, but the human nature is adorned by appellations of divine dignity. More truly indeed of this than of any other can the statement be affirmed, "They shall both be in one flesh, and are no longer two, but one flesh."[5] For the Word of God is to be considered as being more in one flesh with the soul than a man with his wife. But to whom is it more becoming to be also one spirit with God, than to this soul which has so joined itself to God by love as that it may justly be said to be one spirit with Him?

4. That the perfection of his love and the sincerity of his deserved affection[1] formed for it this inseparable union with God, so that the assumption of that soul was not accidental, or the result of a personal preference, but was conferred as the reward of its virtues, listen to the prophet addressing it thus: "Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."[2] As a reward for its love, then, it is anointed with the oil of gladness; i.e., the soul of Christ along with the Word of God is made Christ. Because to be anointed with the oil of gladness means nothing else than to be filled with the Holy Spirit. And when it is said "above thy fellows," it is meant that the grace of the Spirit was not given to it as to the prophets, but that the essential fulness of the Word of God Himself was in it, according to the saying of the apostle, "In whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."[3] Finally, on this account he has not only said, "Thou hast loved righteousness;" but he adds, "and Thou hast hated wickedness." For to have hated wickedness is what the Scripture says of Him, that "He did no sin, neither was any guile found in His mouth,"[4] and that "He was tempted in all things like as we are, without sin."[5] Nay, the Lord Himself also said, "Which of you will convince Me of sin?"[6] And again He says with reference to Himself, " Behold, the prince of this world cometh, and findeth nothing in Me."[7] All which (passages) show that in Him there was no sense of sin; and that the prophet might show more clearly that no sense of sin had ever entered into Him, he says, "Before the boy could have knowledge to call upon father or mother, He turned away from wickedness."[8]

5. Now, if our having shown above that Christ possessed a rational soul should cause a difficulty to any one, seeing we have frequently proved throughout all our discussions that the nature of souls is capable both of good and evil, the difficulty will be explained in the following way. That the nature, indeed, of His soul was the same as that of all others cannot be doubted otherwise it could not be called a soul were it not truly one. But since the power of choosing good and evil is within the reach of all, this soul which belonged to Christ elected to love righteousness, so that in proportion to the immensity of its love it clung to it unchangeably and inseparably, so that firmness of purpose, and immensity of affection, and an inextinguishable warmth of love, destroyed all susceptibility (sensum) for alteration and change; and that which formerly depended upon the will was changed by the power of long custom into nature; and so we must believe that there existed in Christ a human and rational soul, without supposing that it had any feeling or possibility of sin.

6. To explain the matter more fully, it will not appear absurd to make use of an illustration, although on a subject of so much difficulty it is not easy to obtain suitable illustrations. However, if we may speak without offence, the metal iron is capable of cold and heat. If, then, a mass of iron be kept constantly in the fire, receiving the heat through all its pores and veins, and the fire being continuous and the iron never removed from it, it become wholly converted into the latter; could we at all say of this, which is by nature a mass of iron, that when placed in the fire, and incessantly burning, it was at any time capable of admitting cold? On the contrary, because it is more consistent with truth, do we not rather say, what we often see happening in furnaces, that it has become wholly fire, seeing nothing but fire is visible in it? And if any one were to attempt to touch or handle it, he would experience the action not of iron, but of fire. In this way, then, that soul which, like an iron in the fire, has been perpetually placed in the Word, and perpetually in the Wisdom, and perpetually in God,[9] is God in all that it does, feels, and understands, and therefore can be called neither convertible nor mutable, inasmuch as, being incessantly heated, it possessed immutability from its union with the Word of God. To all the saints, finally, some warmth from the Word of God must be supposed to have passed; and in this soul the divine fire itself must be believed to have rested, from which some warmth may have passed to others. Lastly, the expression, "God, thy God, anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows,"[10] shows that that soul is anointed m one way with the oil of gladness, i.e., with the word of God and wisdom; and his fellows, i.e., the holy prophets and apostles, in another. For they are said to have "run in the odour of his ointments;"[11] and that soul was the vessel which contained that very ointment of whose fragrance all the worthy prophets and apostles were made partakers. As, then, the substance of an ointment is one thing and its odour another, so also Christ is one thing and His fellows another. And as the vessel itself, which contains the substance of the ointment, can by no means admit any foul smell; whereas it is possible that those who enjoy its odour may, if they remove a little way from its fragrance, receive any foul odour which comes upon them: so, in the same way, was it impossible that Christ, being as it were the vessel itself, in which was the substance of the ointment, should receive an odour of an opposite kind, while they who are His "fellows" will be partakers and receivers of His odour, in proportion to their nearness to the vessel.

7. I think, indeed, that Jeremiah the prophet, also, understanding what was the nature of the wisdom of God in him, which was the same also which he had assumed for the salvation of the world, said, "The breath of our countenance is Christ the Lord, to whom we said, that under His shadow we shall live among the nations."[1] And inasmuch as the shadow of our body is inseparable from the body, and unavoidably performs and repeats its movements and gestures, I think that he, wishing to point out the work of Christ's soul, and the movements inseparably belonging to it, and which accomplished everything according to His movements and will, called this the shadow of Christ the Lord, under which shadow we were to live among the nations. For in the mystery of this assumption the nations live, who, imitating it through faith, come to salvation. David also, when saying, "Be mindful of my reproach, O Lord, with which they reproached me in exchange for Thy Christ,''[2] seems to me to indicate the same. And what else does Paul mean when he says, "Your life is hid with Christ in God;"[3] and again in another passage, "Do you seek a proof of Christ, who speaketh in me?''[4] And now he says that Christ was hid in God. The meaning of which expression, unless it be shown to be something such as we have pointed out above as intended by the prophet in the words "shadow of Christ," exceeds, perhaps, the apprehension of the human mind. But we see also very many other statements in holy Scripture respecting the meaning of the word "shadow," as that well-known one in the Gospel according to Luke, where Gabriel says to Mary, "The Spirit of the Lord shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee."[5] And the apostle says with reference to the law, that they who have circumcision in the flesh, "serve for the similitude and shadow of heavenly things."[6] And elsewhere, "Is not our life upon the earth a shadow?"[7] If, then, not only the law which is upon the earth is a shadow, but also all our life which is upon the earth is the same, and we live among the nations under the shadow of Christ, we must see whether the truth of all these shadows may not come to be known in that revelation, when no longer through a glass, and darkly, but face to face, all the saints shall deserve to behold the glory of God, and the causes and truth of things. And the pledge of this truth being already received through the Holy Spirit, the apostle said, "Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more.''[8]

The above, meanwhile, are the thoughts which have occurred to us, when treating of subjects of such difficulty as the incarnation and deity of Christ. If there be any one, indeed, who can discover something better, and who can establish his assertions by clearer proofs from holy Scriptures, let his opinion be received in preference to mine.

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