Creation Day 6 part 3
MAN part 3 of 4
Genesis 1: 27 And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth.
29 And God said: Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed upon the earth, and all trees that have in themselves seed of their own kind, to be your meat: 30 And to all beasts of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to all that move upon the earth, and wherein there is life, that they may have to feed upon. And it was so done. 31 And God saw all the things that he had made, and they were very good. And the evening and morning were the sixth day.
Friends, Day 6 of Creation will be the longest blog on any subject. Part 3 MAN; itself will be by far the longest. I have posted the writings on Creation with very little to no editing in order to give you a bigger and better understanding of the early church thinking rather than to place pieces of it into my own writing and philosophy.
On the sixth day, the earth brought forth draught animals and reptiles. On the which day, God also created man – first Adam in his image, and from his rib as he slept, He created the woman, Eve. In the sixth age of the world, among many false men who could be compared deservedly with serpents and beasts, namely on account of their savagery and because with their whole soul they cling to worldly cares and enticements, also many saints which is ‘ad idolatriam’ (to idolatry) were born among the people of God, who in the likeness of clean animals knew how to ruminate upon the word of God, to keep the hoof of discernment to the way of good works, to carry the yoke of divine law, and to keep the poor warm with the fleeces of their sheep, of both of whom [that is the false men and the saints] apt mention is made in the Gospel, among whom the second Adam, to wit the mediator between God and mankind, in whom was all the fullness of the image of God appeared in the world and, sleeping on the cross, blood and water came out from his side, from which sacraments the church is born and is nourished, which is the mother of all living a true life throughout the world, which is what the name of Eve means. Hence the Lord himself says of these sacraments, ‘Who eats my flesh and drinks my blood … will have eternal life’. Now we perceive the evening of this day approaching, since with iniquity abounding through all, the love of many grows cold. However, a much more shadowy one than the rest will come, when with the appearance of the man of sin, the son of iniquity, who is lifted up and extolled above all that is called God or that is worshipped, there will be such great tribulation that even the elect will be led into error, if that is possible. Immediately the following hour [will be that of] the judgment of all, about which it is written: ‘Coming like unto a son of man, you may consider, will he find faith on earth?’
St. Gregory of Nyssa on the Making of Man
XVII. What we must answer to those who raise the question—”If procreation is after sin, how would souls have come into being if the first of mankind had remained sinless?”
1. It is better for us however, perhaps, rather to inquire, before investigating this point, the solution of the question put forward by our adversaries; for they say that before the sin there is no account of birth, or of travail, or of the desire that tends to procreation, but when they were banished from Paradise after their sin, and the woman was condemned by the sentence of travail, Adam thus entered with his consort upon the intercourse of married life, and then took place the beginning of procreation. If, then, marriage did not exist in Paradise, nor travail, nor birth, they say that it follows as a necessary conclusion that human souls would not have existed in plurality had not the grace of immortality fallen away to mortality, and marriage preserved our race by means of descendants, introducing the offspring of the departing to take their place, so that in a certain way the sin that entered into the world was profitable for the life of man: for the human race would have remained in the pair of the first-formed, had not the fear of death impelled their nature to provide succession.
2. Now here again the true answer, whatever it may be, can be clear to those only who, like Paul, have been instructed in the mysteries of Paradise; but our answer is as follows. When the Sadducees once argued against the doctrine of the resurrection, and brought forward, to establish their own opinion, that woman of many marriages, who had been wife to seven brethren, and thereupon inquired whose wife she will be after the resurrection, our Lord answered their argument so as not only to instruct the Sadducees, but also to reveal to all that come after them the mystery of the resurrection-life: for in the resurrection, He says, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; neither can they die any more, for they are equal to the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection Luke 20:35-36 . Now the resurrection promises us nothing else than the restoration of the fallen to their ancient state; for the grace we look for is a certain return to the first life, bringing back again to Paradise him who was cast out from it. If then the life of those restored is closely related to that of the angels, it is clear that the life before the transgression was a kind of angelic life, and hence also our return to the ancient condition of our life is compared to the angels. Yet while, as has been said, there is no marriage among them, the armies of the angels are in countless myriads; for so Daniel declared in his visions: so, in the same way, if there had not come upon us as the result of sin a change for the worse, and removal from equality with the angels, neither should we have needed marriage that we might multiply; but whatever the mode of increase in the angelic nature is (unspeakable and inconceivable by human conjectures, except that it assuredly exists), it would have operated also in the case of men, who were made a little lower than the angels , to increase mankind to the measure determined by its Maker.
3. But if any one finds a difficulty in an inquiry as to the manner of the generation of souls, had man not needed the assistance of marriage, we shall ask him in turn, what is the mode of the angelic existence, how they exist in countless myriads, being one essence, and at the same time numerically many; for we shall be giving a fit answer to one who raises the question how man would have been without marriage, if we say, as the angels are without marriage; for the fact that man was in a like condition with them before the transgression is shown by the restoration to that state.
4. Now that we have thus cleared up these matters, let us return to our former point—how it was that after the making of His image God contrived for His work the distinction of male and female. I say that the preliminary speculation we have completed is of service for determining this question; for He Who brought all things into being and fashioned Man as a whole by His own will to the Divine image, did not wait to see the number of souls made up to its proper fullness by the gradual additions of those coming after; but while looking upon the nature of man in its entirety and fullness by the exercise of His foreknowledge, and bestowing upon it a lot exalted and equal to the angels, since He saw beforehand by His all-seeing power the failure of their will to keep a direct course to what is good, and its consequent declension from the angelic life, in order that the multitude of human souls might not be cut short by its fall from that mode by which the angels were increased and multiplied—for this reason, I say, He formed for our nature that contrivance for increase which befits those who had fallen into sin, implanting in mankind, instead of the angelic majesty of nature, that animal and irrational mode by which they now succeed one another.
5. Hence also, it seems to me, the great David pitying the misery of man mourns over his nature with such words as these, that, man being in honor knew it not (meaning by honor the equality with the angels), therefore, he says, he is compared to the beasts that have no understanding, and made like them. For he truly was made like the beasts, who received in his nature the present mode of transient generation, on account of his inclination to material things.
XVIII. That our irrational passions have their rise from kindred with irrational nature.
1. For I think that from this beginning all our passions issue as from a spring, and pour their flood over man’s life; and an evidence of my words is the kinship of passions which appears alike in ourselves and in the brutes; for it is not allowable to ascribe the first beginnings of our constitutional liability to passion to that human nature which was fashioned in the Divine likeness; but as brute life first entered into the world, and man, for the reason already mentioned, took something of their nature (I mean the mode of generation), he accordingly took at the same time a share of the other attributes contemplated in that nature; for the likeness of man to God is not found in anger, nor is pleasure a mark of the superior nature; cowardice also, and boldness, and the desire of gain, and the dislike of loss, and all the like, are far removed from that stamp which indicates Divinity.
2. These attributes, then, human nature took to itself from the side of the brutes; for those qualities with which brute life was armed for self-preservation, when transferred to human life, became passions; for the carnivorous animals are preserved by their anger, and those which breed largely by their love of pleasure; cowardice preserves the weak, fear that which is easily taken by more powerful animals, and greediness those of great bulk; and to miss anything that tends to pleasure is for the brutes a matter of pain. All these and the like affections entered man’s composition by reason of the animal mode of generation.
3. I may be allowed to describe the human image by comparison with some wonderful piece of modelling. For, as one may see in models those carved shapes which the artificers of such things contrive for the wonder of beholders, tracing out upon a single head two forms of faces; so man seems to me to bear a double likeness to opposite things— being moulded in the Divine element of his mind to the Divine beauty, but bearing, in the passionate impulses that arise in him, a likeness to the brute nature; while often even his reason is rendered brutish, and obscures the better element by the worse through its inclination and disposition towards what is irrational; for whenever a man drags down his mental energy to these affections, and forces his reason to become the servant of his passions, there takes place a sort of conversion of the good stamp in him into the irrational image, his whole nature being traced anew after that design, as his reason, so to say, cultivates the beginnings of his passions, and gradually multiplies them; for once it lends its co-operation to passion, it produces a plenteous and abundant crop of evils.
4. Thus our love of pleasure took its beginning from our being made like to the irrational creation, and was increased by the transgressions of men, becoming the parent of so many varieties of sins arising from pleasure as we cannot find among the irrational animals. Thus the rising of anger in us is indeed akin to the impulse of the brutes; but it grows by the alliance of thought: for thence come malignity, envy, deceit, conspiracy, hypocrisy; all these are the result of the evil husbandry of the mind; for if the passion were divested of the aid it receives from thought, the anger that is left behind is short-lived and not sustained, like a bubble, perishing straightway as soon as it comes into being. Thus the greediness of swine introduces covetousness, and the high spirit of the horse becomes the origin of pride; and all the particular forms that proceed from the want of reason in brute nature become vice by the evil use of the mind.
5. So, likewise, on the contrary, if reason instead assumes sway over such emotions, each of them is transmuted to a form of virtue; for anger produces courage, terror caution, fear obedience, hatred aversion from vice, the power of love the desire for what is truly beautiful; high spirit in our character raises our thought above the passions, and keeps it from bondage to what is base; yea, the great Apostle, even, praises such a form of mental elevation when he bids us constantly to think those things that are above Colossians 3:2; and so we find that every such motion, when elevated by loftiness of mind, is conformed to the beauty of the Divine image.
6. But the other impulse is greater, as the tendency of sin is heavy and downward; for the ruling element of our soul is more inclined to be dragged downwards by the weight of the irrational nature than is the heavy and earthy element to be exalted by the loftiness of the intellect; hence the misery that encompasses us often causes the Divine gift to be forgotten, and spreads the passions of the flesh, like some ugly mask, over the beauty of the image.
7. Those, therefore, are in some sense excusable, who do not admit, when they look upon such cases, that the Divine form is there; yet we may behold the Divine image in men by the medium of those who have ordered their lives aright. For if the man who is subject to passion, and carnal, makes it incredible that man was adorned, as it were, with Divine beauty, surely the man of lofty virtue and pure from pollution will confirm you in the better conception of human nature.
8. For instance (for it is better to make our argument clear by an illustration), one of those noted for wickedness— some Jechoniah, say, or some other of evil memory— has obliterated the beauty of his nature by the pollution of wickedness; yet in Moses and in men like him the form of the image was kept pure. Now where the beauty of the form has not been obscured, there is made plain the faithfulness of the saying that man is an image of God.
9. It may be, however, that some one feels shame at the fact that our life, like that of the brutes, is sustained by food, and for this reason deems man unworthy of being supposed to have been framed in the image of God; but he may expect that freedom from this function will one day be bestowed upon our nature in the life we look for; for, as the Apostle says, the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink Romans 14:17; and the Lord declared that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Further, as the resurrection holds forth to us a life equal with the angels, and with the angels there is no food, there is sufficient ground for believing that man, who will live in like fashion with the angels, will be released from such a function.
XIX. To those who say that the enjoyment of the good things we look for will again consist in meat and drink, because it is written that by these means man at first lived in Paradise.
1. But some one perhaps will say that man will not be returning to the same form of life, if as it seems, we formerly existed by eating, and shall hereafter be free from that function. I, however, when I hear the Holy Scripture, do not understand only bodily meat, or the pleasure of the flesh; but I recognize another kind of food also, having a certain analogy to that of the body, the enjoyment of which extends to the soul alone: Eat of my bread Proverbs 9:5, is the bidding of Wisdom to the hungry; and the Lord declares those blessed who hunger for such food as this, and says, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink: and drink ye joy , is the great Isaiah’s charge to those who are able to hear his sublimity. There is a prophetic threatening also against those worthy of vengeance, that they shall be punished with famine; but the famine is not a lack of bread and water, but a failure of the word:— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the word of the Lord Amos 8:11 .
2. We ought, then, to conceive that the fruit in Eden was something worthy of God’s planting (and Eden is interpreted to mean delight), and not to doubt that man was hereby nourished: nor should we at all conceive, concerning the mode of life in Paradise, this transitory and perishable nutriment: of every tree of the garden, He says, you may freely eat Genesis 2:16 .
3. Who will give to him that has a healthful hunger that tree that is in Paradise, which includes all good, which is named every tree, in which this passage bestows on man the right to share? For in the universal and transcendent saying every form of good is in harmony with itself, and the whole is one. And who will keep me back from that tasting of the tree which is of mixed and doubtful kind? For surely it is clear to all who are at all keen-sighted what that every tree is whose fruit is life, and what again that mixed tree is whose end is death: for He Who presents ungrudgingly the enjoyment of every tree, surely by some reason and forethought keeps man from participation in those which are of doubtful kind.
4. It seems to me that I may take the great David and the wise Solomon as my instructors in the interpretation of this text: for both understand the grace of the permitted delight to be one—that very actual Good, which in truth is every good—David, when he says, Delight thou in the Lord , and Solomon, when he names Wisdom herself (which is the Lord) a tree of life Proverbs 3:18 .
5. Thus the every tree of which the passage gives food to him who was made in the likeness of God, is the same with the tree of life; and there is opposed to this tree another tree, the food given by which is the knowledge of good and evil:— not that it bears in turn as fruit each of these things of opposite significance, but that it produces a fruit blended and mixed with opposite qualities, the eating of which the Prince of Life forbids, and the serpent counsels, that he may prepare an entrance for death: and he obtained credence for his counsel, covering over the fruit with a fair appearance and the show of pleasure, that it might be pleasant to the eyes and stimulate the desire to taste.
XX. What was the life in Paradise, and what was the forbidden tree ?
1. What then is that which includes the knowledge of good and evil blended together, and is decked with the pleasures of sense? I think I am not aiming wide of the mark in employing, as a starting-point for my speculation, the sense of knowable. It is not, I think, science which the Scripture here means by knowledge; but I find a certain distinction, according to Scriptural use, between knowledge and discernment: for to discern skillfully the good from the evil, the Apostle says is a mark of a more perfect condition and of exercised senses , for which reason also he bids us prove all things 1 Thessalonians 5:21, and says that discernment belongs to the spiritual man 1 Corinthians 2:15: but knowledge is not always to be understood of skill and acquaintance with anything, but of the disposition towards what is agreeable—as the Lord knows them that are His 2 Timothy 2:19 ; and He says to Moses, I knew you above all ; while of those condemned in their wickedness He Who knows all things says, I never knew you Matthew 7:23 .
2. The tree, then, from which comes this fruit of mixed knowledge, is among those things which are forbidden; and that fruit is combined of opposite qualities, which has the serpent to commend it, it may be for this reason, that the evil is not exposed in its nakedness, itself appearing in its own proper nature— for wickedness would surely fail of its effect were it not decked with some fair color to entice to the desire of it him whom it deceives— but now the nature of evil is in a manner mixed, keeping destruction like some snare concealed in its depths, and displaying some phantom of good in the deceitfulness of its exterior. The beauty of the substance seems good to those who love money: yet the love of money is a root of all evil 1 Timothy 6:10 : and who would plunge into the unsavory mud of wantonness, were it not that he whom this bait hurries into passion thinks pleasure a thing fair and acceptable? So, too, the other sins keep their destruction hidden, and seem at first sight acceptable, and some deceit makes them earnestly sought after by unwary men instead of what is good.
3. Now since the majority of men judge the good to lie in that which gratifies the senses, and there is a certain identity of name between that which is, and that which appears to be good,— for this reason that desire which arises towards what is evil, as though towards good, is called by Scripture the knowledge of good and evil; knowledge, as we have said, expressing a certain mixed disposition. It speaks of the fruit of the forbidden tree not as a thing absolutely evil (because it is decked with good), nor as a thing purely good (because evil is latent in it), but as compounded of both, and declares that the tasting of it brings to death those who touch it; almost proclaiming aloud the doctrine that the very actual good is in its nature simple and uniform, alien from all duplicity or conjunction with its opposite, while evil is many-colored and fairly adorned, being esteemed to be one thing and revealed by experience as another, the knowledge of which (that is, its reception by experience) is the beginning and antecedent of death and destruction.
4. It was because he saw this that the serpent points out the evil fruit of sin, not showing the evil manifestly in its own nature (for man would not have been deceived by manifest evil), but giving to what the woman beheld the glamour of a certain beauty, and conjuring into its taste the spell of a sensual pleasure, he appeared to her to speak convincingly: and the woman saw, it says, that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes to behold, and fair to see; and she took of the fruit thereof and did eat , and that eating became the mother of death to men. This, then, is that fruit-bearing of mixed character, where the passage clearly expresses the sense in which the tree was called capable of the knowledge of good and evil, because, like the evil nature of poisons that are prepared with honey, it appears to be good in so far as it affects the senses with sweetness: but in so far as it destroys him who touches it, it is the worst of all evil. Thus when the evil poison worked its effect against man’s life, then man, that noble thing and name, the image of God’s nature, was made, as the prophet says, like vanity.
5. The image, therefore, properly belongs to the better part of our attributes; but all in our life that is painful and miserable is far removed from the likeness to the Divine.
XXI. That the resurrection is looked for as a consequence, not so much from the declaration of Scripture as from the very necessity of things.
1. Wickedness, however, is not so strong as to prevail over the power of good; nor is the folly of our nature more powerful and more abiding than the wisdom of God: for it is impossible that that which is always mutable and variable should be more firm and more abiding than that which always remains the same and is firmly fixed in goodness: but it is absolutely certain that the Divine counsel possesses immutability, while the changeableness of our nature does not remain settled even in evil.
2. Now that which is always in motion, if its progress be to good, will never cease moving onwards to what lies before it, by reason of the infinity of the course to be traversed:— for it will not find any limit of its object such that when it has apprehended it, it will at last cease its motion: but if its bias be in the opposite direction, when it has finished the course of wickedness and reached the extreme limit of evil, then that which is ever moving, finding no halting point for its impulse natural to itself when it has run through the lengths that can be run in wickedness, of necessity turns its motion towards good: for as evil does not extend to infinity, but is comprehended by necessary limits, it would appear that good once more follows in succession upon the limit of evil; and thus, as we have said, the ever-moving character of our nature comes to run its course at the last once more back towards good, being taught the lesson of prudence by the memory of its former misfortunes, to the end that it may never again be in like case.
3. Our course, then, will once more lie in what is good, by reason of the fact that the nature of evil is bounded by necessary limits. For just as those skilled in astronomy tell us that the whole universe is full of light, and that darkness is made to cast its shadow by the interposition of the body formed by the earth; and that this darkness is shut off from the rays of the sun, in the shape of a cone, according to the figure of the sphere-shaped body, and behind it; while the sun, exceeding the earth by a size many times as great as its own, enfolding it round about on all sides with its rays, unites at the limit of the cone the concurrent streams of light; so that if (to suppose the case) any one had the power of passing beyond the measure to which the shadow extends, he would certainly find himself in light unbroken by darkness—even so I think that we ought to understand about ourselves, that on passing the limit of wickedness we shall again have our conversation in light, as the nature of good, when compared with the measure of wickedness, is incalculably superabundant.
4. Paradise therefore will be restored, that tree will be restored which is in truth the tree of life—there will be restored the grace of the image, and the dignity of rule. It does not seem to me that our hope is one for those things which are now subjected by God to man for the necessary uses of life, but one for another kingdom, of a description that belongs to unspeakable mysteries.
XXII. To those who say, If the resurrection is a thing excellent and good, how is it that it has not happened already, but is hoped for in some periods of time?
1. Let us give our attention, however, to the next point of our discussion. It may be that someone, giving his thought wings to soar towards the sweetness of our hope, deems it a burden and a loss that we are not more speedily placed in that good state which is above man’s sense and knowledge, and is dissatisfied with the extension of the time that intervenes between him and the object of his desire. Let him cease to vex himself like a child that is discontented at the brief delay of something that gives him pleasure; for since all things are governed by reason and wisdom, we must by no means suppose that anything that happens is done without reason itself and the wisdom that is therein.
2. You will say then, What is this reason, in accordance with which the change of our painful life to that which we desire does not take place at once, but this heavy and corporeal existence of ours waits, extended to some determinate time, for the term of the consummation of all things, that then man’s life may be set free as it were from the reins, and revert once more, released and free, to the life of blessedness and impassibility?
3. Well, whether our answer is near the truth of the matter, the Truth Itself may clearly know; but at all events what occurs to our intelligence is as follows. I take up then once more in my argument our first text:— God says, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and God created man, in the image of God created He him Genesis 1:26-27 . Accordingly, the Image of God, which we behold in universal humanity, had its consummation then ; but Adam as yet was not; for the thing formed from the earth is called Adam, by etymological nomenclature, as those tell us who are acquainted with the Hebrew tongue— wherefore also the apostle, who was specially learned in his native tongue, the tongue of the Israelites, calls the man of the earth 1 Corinthians 15:47 χοϊκός, as though translating the name Adam into the Greek word.
4. Man, then, was made in the image of God; that is, the universal nature, the thing like God; not part of the whole, but all the fullness of the nature together was so made by omnipotent wisdom. He saw, Who holds all limits in His grasp, as the Scripture tells us which says, in His hand are all the corners of the earth , He saw, Who knows all things even before they be , comprehending them in His knowledge, how great in number humanity will be in the sum of its individuals. But as He perceived in our created nature the bias towards evil, and the fact that after its voluntary fall from equality with the angels it would acquire a fellowship with the lower nature, He mingled, for this reason, with His own image, an element of the irrational (for the distinction of male and female does not exist in the Divine and blessed nature);— transferring, I say, to man the special attribute of the irrational formation, He bestowed increase upon our race not according to the lofty character of our creation; for it was not when He made that which was in His own image that He bestowed on man the power of increasing and multiplying; but when He divided it by sexual distinctions, then He said, Increase and multiply, and replenish the earth Genesis 1:28 . For this belongs not to the Divine, but to the irrational element, as the history indicates when it narrates that these words were first spoken by God in the case of the irrational creatures; since we may be sure that, if He had bestowed on man, before imprinting on our nature the distinction of male and female, the power for increase conveyed by this utterance, we should not have needed this form of generation by which the brutes are generated.
5. Now seeing that the full number of men pre-conceived by the operation of foreknowledge will come into life by means of this animal generation, God, Who governs all things in a certain order and sequence—since the inclination of our nature to what was beneath it (which He Who beholds the future equally with the present saw before it existed) made some such form of generation absolutely necessary for mankind—therefore also foreknew the time coextensive with the creation of men, so that the extent of time should be adapted for the entrances of the pre-determined souls, and that the flux and motion of time should halt at the moment when humanity is no longer produced by means of it; and that when the generation of men is completed, time should cease together with its completion, and then should take place the restitution of all things, and with the World-Reformation humanity also should be changed from the corruptible and earthly to the impassible and eternal.
6. And this it seems to me the Divine apostle considered when he declared in his epistle to the Corinthians the sudden stoppage of time, and the change of the things that are now moving on back to the opposite end where he says, Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. For when, as I suppose, the full complement of human nature has reached the limit of the pre-determined measure, because there is no longer anything to be made up in the way of increase to the number of souls, he teaches us that the change in existing things will take place in an instant of time, giving to that limit of time which has no parts or extension the names of a moment, and the twinkling of an eye; so that it will no more be possible for one who reaches the verge of time (which is the last and extreme point, from the fact that nothing is lacking to the attainment of its extremity) to obtain by death this change which takes place at a fixed period, but only when the trumpet of the resurrection sounds, which awakens the dead, and transforms those who are left in life, after the likeness of those who have undergone the resurrection change, at once to incorruptibility; so that the weight of the flesh is no longer heavy, nor does its burden hold them down to earth, but they rise aloft through the air— for, we shall be caught up, he tells us, in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord 1 Thessalonians 4:17 .
7. Let him therefore wait for that time which is necessarily made co-extensive with the development of humanity. For even Abraham and the patriarchs, while they had the desire to see the promised good things, and ceased not to seek the heavenly country, as the apostle says, are yet even now in the condition of hoping for that grace, God having provided some better thing for us, according to the words of Paul, that they without us should not be made perfect Hebrews 11:40. If they, then, bear the delay who by faith only and by hope saw the good things afar off and embraced them Hebrews 11:13, as the apostle bears witness, placing their certainty of the enjoyment of the things for which they hoped in the fact that they judged Him faithful Who has promised Hebrews 11:11, what ought most of us to do, who have not, it may be, a hold upon the better hope from the character of our lives? Even the prophet’s soul fainted with desire, and in his psalm he confesses this passionate love, saying that his soul has a desire and longing to be in the courts of the Lord, even if he must needs be rejected to a place among the lowest, as it is a greater and more desirable thing to be last there than to be first among the ungodly tents of this life; nevertheless he was patient of the delay, deeming, indeed, the life there blessed, and accounting a brief participation in it more desirable than thousands of time— for he says, one day in Your courts is better than thousands — yet he did not repine at the necessary dispensation concerning existing things, and thought it sufficient bliss for man to have those good things even by way of hope; wherefore he says at the end of the Psalm, O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that hopes in You.
8. Neither, then, should we be troubled at the brief delay of what we hope for, but give diligence that we may not be cast out from the object of our hopes; for just as though, if one were to tell some inexperienced person beforehand, the gathering of the crops will take place in the season of summer, and the stores will be filled, and the table abundantly supplied with food at the time of plenty, it would be a foolish man who should seek to hurry on the coming of the fruit-time, when he ought to be sowing seeds and preparing the crops for himself by diligent care; for the fruit-time will surely come, whether he wishes or not, at the appointed time; and it will be looked on differently by him who has secured for himself beforehand abundance of crops, and by him who is found by the fruit-time destitute of all preparation. Even so I think it is one’s duty, as the proclamation is clearly made to all that the time of change will come, not to trouble himself about times (for He said that it is not for us to know the times and the seasons Acts 1:7 ), nor to pursue calculations by which he will be sure to sap the hope of the resurrection in the soul; but to make his confidence in the things expected as a prop to lean on, and to purchase for himself, by good conversation, the grace that is to come.
XXIII. That he who confesses the beginning of the world’s existence must necessarily also agree as to its end.
But if someone, beholding the present course of the world, by which intervals of time are marked, going on in a certain order, should say that it is not possible that the predicted stoppage of these moving things should take place, such a man clearly also does not believe that in the beginning the heaven and the earth were made by God; for he who admits a beginning of motion surely does not doubt as to its also having an end; and he who does not allow its end, does not admit its beginning either; but as it is by believing that we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, as the apostle says, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear, we must use the same faith as to the word of God when He foretells the necessary stoppage of existing things.
2. The question of the how must, however, be put beyond the reach of our meddling; for even in the case mentioned it was by faith that we admitted that the thing seen was framed from things not yet apparent, omitting the search into things beyond our reach. And yet our reason suggests difficulties on many points, offering no small occasions for doubt as to the things which we believe.
3. For in that case too, argumentative men might by plausible reasoning upset our faith, so that we should not think that statement true which Holy Scripture delivers concerning the material creation, when it asserts that all existing things have their beginning of being from God. For those who abide by the contrary view maintain that matter is co-eternal with God, and employ in support of their own doctrine some such arguments as these. If God is in His nature simple and immaterial, without quantity , or size, or combination, and removed from the idea of circumscription by way of figure, while all matter is apprehended in extension measured by intervals, and does not escape the apprehension of our senses, but becomes known to us in color, and figure, and bulk, and size, and resistance, and the other attributes belonging to it, none of which it is possible to conceive in the Divine nature,— what method is there for the production of matter from the immaterial, or of the nature that has dimensions from that which is unextended? For if these things are believed to have their existence from that source, they clearly come into existence after being in Him in some mysterious way; but if material existence was in Him, how can He be immaterial while including matter in Himself? And similarly with all the other marks by which the material nature is differentiated; if quantity exists in God, how is God without quantity? If the compound nature exists in Him, how is He simple, without parts and without combination? So that the argument forces us to think either that He is material, because matter has its existence from Him as a source; or, if one avoids this, it is necessary to suppose that matter was imported by Him ab extra for the making of the universe.
4. If, then, it was external to God, something else surely existed besides God, conceived, in respect of eternity, together with Him Who exists ungenerately; so that the argument supposes two eternal and unbegotten existences, having their being concurrently with each other— that of Him Who operates as an artificer, and that of the thing which admits this skilled operation; and if anyone under pressure of this argument should assume a material substratum for the Creator of all things, what a support will the Manichean find for his special doctrine, who opposes by virtue of ungenerateness a material existence to a Good Being. Yet we do believe that all things are of God, as we hear the Scripture say so; and as to the question how they were in God, a question beyond our reason, we do not seek to pry into it, believing that all things are within the capacity of God’s power— both to give existence to what is not, and to implant qualities at His pleasure in what is.
5. Consequently, as we suppose the power of the Divine will to be a sufficient cause to the things that are, for their coming into existence out of nothing, so too we shall not repose our belief on anything beyond probability in referring the World-Reformation to the same power. Moreover, it might perhaps be possible, by some skill in the use of words, to persuade those who raise frivolous objections on the subject of matter not to think that they can make an unanswerable attack on our statement.
XXIV. An argument against those who say that matter is co-eternal with God.
1. For after all that opinion on the subject of matter does not turn out to be beyond what appears consistent, which declares that it has its existence from Him Who is intelligible and immaterial. For we shall find all matter to be composed of certain qualities, of which if it is divested it can, in itself, be by no means grasped by idea. Moreover in idea each kind of quality is separated from the substratum; but idea is an intellectual and not a corporeal method of examination. If, for instance, some animal or tree is presented to our notice, or any other of the things that have material existence, we perceive in our mental discussion of it many things concerning the substratum, the idea of each of which is clearly distinguished from the object we contemplate: for the idea of color is one, of weight another; so again that of quantity and of such and such a peculiar quality of touch: for softness, and two cubits long, and the rest of the attributes we spoke of, are not connected in idea either with one another or with the body: each of them has conceived concerning it its own explanatory definition according to its being, having nothing in common with any other of the qualities that are contemplated in the substratum.
2. If, then, color is a thing intelligible, and resistance also is intelligible, and so with quantity and the rest of the like properties, while if each of these should be withdrawn from the substratum, the whole idea of the body is dissolved; it would seem to follow that we may suppose the concurrence of those things, the absence of which we found to be a cause of the dissolution of the body, to produce the material nature: for as that is not a body which has not color, and figure, and resistance, and extension, and weight, and the other properties, while each of these in its proper existence is found to be not the body but something else besides the body, so, conversely, whenever the specified attributes concur they produce bodily existence. Yet if the perception of these properties is a matter of intellect, and the Divinity is also intellectual in nature, there is no incongruity in supposing that these intellectual occasions for the genesis of bodies have their existence from the incorporeal nature, the intellectual nature on the one hand giving being to the intellectual potentialities, and the mutual concurrence of these bringing to its genesis the material nature.
3. Let this discussion, however, be by way of digression: we must direct our discourse once more to the faith by which we accept the statement that the universe took being from nothing, and do not doubt, when we are taught by Scripture, that it will again be transformed into some other state.
XXV. How one even of those who are without may be brought to believe the Scripture when teaching of the resurrection.
1. Someone, perhaps, having regard to the dissolution of bodies, and judging the Deity by the measure of his own power, asserts that the idea of the resurrection is impossible, saying that it cannot be that both those things which are now in motion should become stationary, and those things which are now without motion should rise again.
2. Let such an one, however, take as the first and greatest evidence of the truth touching the resurrection the credibility of the herald who proclaims it. Now the faith of what is said derives its certainty from the result of the other predictions: for as the Divine Scripture delivers statements many and various, it is possible by examining how the rest of the utterances stand in the matter of falsehood and truth to survey also, in the light of them, the doctrine concerning the resurrection. For if in the other matters the statements are found to be false and to have failed of true fulfilment, neither is this out of the region of falsehood; but if all the others have experience to vouch for their truth, it would seem logical to esteem as true, on their account, the prediction concerning the resurrection also. Let us therefore recall one or two of the predictions that have been made, and compare the result with what was foretold, so that we may know by means of them whether the idea has a truthful aspect.
3. Who knows not how the people of Israel flourished of old, raised up against all the powers of the world; what were the palaces in the city of Jerusalem, what the walls, the towers, the majestic structure of the Temple? Things that seemed worthy of admiration even to the disciples of the Lord, so that they asked the Lord to take notice of them, in their disposition to marvel, as the Gospel history shows us, saying, What works, and what buildings! But He indicates to those who wondered at its present state the future desolation of the place and the disappearance of that beauty, saying that after a little while nothing of what they saw should be left. And, again, at the time of His Passion, the women followed, bewailing the unjust sentence against Him—for they could not yet see into the dispensation of what was being done:— but He bids them be silent as to what is befalling Him, for it does not demand their tears, but to reserve their wailing and lamentation for the true time for tears, when the city should be compassed by besiegers, and their sufferings reach so great a strait that they should deem him happy who had not been born: and herein He foretold also the horrid deed of her who devoured her child, when He said that in those days the womb should be accounted blest that never bare. Luke 23:27-29 where then are those palaces? Where is the Temple? Where are the walls? Where are the defenses of the towers? Where is the power of the Israelites? Were not they scattered in different quarters over almost the whole world? And in their overthrow the palaces also were brought to ruin.
4. Now it seems to me that the Lord foretold these things and others like them not for the sake of the matters themselves— for what great advantage to the hearers, at any rate, was the prediction of what was about to happen? They would have known by experience, even if they had not previously learned what would come—but in order that by these means faith on their part might follow concerning more important matters: for the testimony of facts in the former cases is also a proof of truth in the latter.
5. For just as though, if a husbandman were explaining the virtue of seeds, it were to happen that some person inexperienced in husbandry should disbelieve him, it would be sufficient as proof of his statement for the agriculturist to show him the virtue existing in one seed of those in the bushel and make it a pledge of the rest— for he who should see the single grain of wheat or barley, or whatever might chance to be the contents of the bushel, grow into an ear after being cast into the ground, would by the means of the one cease also to disbelieve concerning the others— so the truthfulness which confessedly belongs to the other statements seems to me to be sufficient also for evidence of the mystery of the resurrection.
6. Still more, however, is this the case with the experience of actual resurrection which we have learned not so much by words as by actual facts: for as the marvel of resurrection was great and passing belief, He begins gradually by inferior instances of His miraculous power, and accustoms our faith, as it were, for the reception of the greater.
7. For as a mother who nurses her babe with due care for a time supplies milk by her breast to its mouth while still tender and soft; and when it begins to grow and to have teeth she gives it bread, not hard or such as it cannot chew, so that the tender and unpracticed gums may not be chafed by rough food; but softening it with her own teeth, she makes it suitable and convenient for the powers of the eater; and then as its power increases by growth she gradually leads on the babe, accustomed to tender food, to more solid nourishment; so the Lord, nourishing and fostering with miracles the weakness of the human mind, like some babe not fully grown, makes first of all a prelude of the power of the resurrection in the case of a desperate disease, which prelude, though it was great in its achievement, yet was not such a thing that the statement of it would be disbelieved: for by rebuking the fever which was fiercely consuming Simon’s wife’s mother, He produced so great a removal of the evil as to enable her who was already expected to be near death, to minister to those present.
8. Next He makes a slight addition to the power, and when the nobleman’s son lies in acknowledged danger of death (for so the history tells us, that he was about to die, as his father cried, come down, ere my child die ), He again brings about the resurrection of one who was believed about to die; accomplishing the miracle with a greater act of power in that He did not even approach the place, but sent life from afar off by the force of His command.
9. Once more in what follows He ascends to higher wonders. For having set out on His way to the ruler of the synagogue’s daughter, he voluntarily made a halt in His way, while making public the secret cure of the woman with an issue of blood, that in this time death might overcome the sick. When, then, the soul had just been parted from the body, and those who were wailing over the sorrow were making a tumult with their mournful cries, He raises the damsel to life again, as if from sleep, by His word of command, leading on human weakness, by a sort of path and sequence, to greater things.
10. Still in addition to these acts He exceeds them in wonder, and by a more exalted act of power prepares for men the way of faith in the resurrection. The Scripture tells us of a city called Nain in Judea: a widow there had an only child, no longer a child in the sense of being among boys, but already passing from childhood to man’s estate: the narrative calls him a young man. The story conveys much in few words: the very recital is a real lamentation: the dead man’s mother, it says, was a widow. See you the weight of her misfortune, how the text briefly sets out the tragedy of her suffering? For what does the phrase mean? That she had no more hope of bearing sons, to cure the loss she had just sustained in him who had departed; for the woman was a widow: she had not in her power to look to another instead of to him who had gone; for he was her only child; and how great a grief is here expressed any one may easily see who is not an utter stranger to natural feeling. Him alone she had known in travail, him alone she had nursed at her breast; he alone made her table cheerful, he alone was the cause of brightness in her home, in play, in work, in learning, in gaiety, at processions, at sports, at gatherings of youth; he alone was all that is sweet and precious in a mother’s eyes. Now at the age of marriage, he was the stock of her race, the shoot of its succession, the staff of her old age. Moreover, even the additional detail of his time of life is another lament: for he who speaks of him as a young man tells of the flower of his faded beauty, speaks of him as just covering his face with down, not yet with a full thick beard, but still bright with the beauty of his cheeks. What then, think you, were his mother’s sorrows for him? How would her heart be consumed as it were with a flame; how bitterly would she prolong her lament over him, embracing the corpse as it lay before her, lengthening out her mourning for him as far as possible, so as not to hasten the funeral of the dead, but to have her fill of sorrow! Nor does the narrative pass this by: for Jesus when He saw her, it says, had compassion; and He came and touched the bier; and they that bare him stood still; and He said to the dead, Young man, I say unto you, arise Luke 7:13-15, and He delivered him to his mother alive. Observe that no short time had intervened since the dead man had entered upon that state, he was all but laid in the tomb; the miracle wrought by the Lord is greater, though the command is the same.
11. His miraculous power proceeds to a still more exalted act, that its display may more closely approach that miracle of the resurrection which men doubt. One of the Lord’s companions and friends is ill (Lazarus is the sick man’s name); and the Lord deprecates any visiting of His friend, though far away from the sick man, that in the absence of the Life, death might find room and power to do his own work by the agency of disease. The Lord informs His disciples in Galilee of what has befallen Lazarus, and also of his own setting out to him to raise him up when laid low. They, however, were exceedingly afraid on account of the fury of the Jews, thinking it a difficult and dangerous matter to turn again towards Judea, in the midst of those who sought to slay Him: and thus, lingering and delaying, they return slowly from Galilee: but they do return, for His command prevailed, and the disciples were led by the Lord to be initiated at Bethany in the preliminary mysteries of the general resurrection. Four days had already passed since the event; all due rites had been performed for the departed; the body was hidden in the tomb: it was probably already swollen and beginning to dissolve into corruption, as the body mouldered in the dank earth and necessarily decayed: the thing was one to turn from, as the dissolved body under the constraint of nature changed to offensiveness. At this point the doubted fact of the general resurrection is brought to proof by a more manifest miracle; for one is not raised from severe sickness, nor brought back to life when at the last breath— nor is a child just dead brought to life, nor a young man about to be conveyed to the tomb released from his bier; but a man past the prime of life, a corpse, decaying, swollen, yea already in a state of dissolution, so that even his own kinsfolk could not suffer that the Lord should draw near the tomb by reason of the offensiveness of the decayed body there enclosed, brought into life by a single call, confirms the proclamation of the resurrection, that is to say, that expectation of it as universal, which we learn by a particular experience to entertain. For as in the regeneration of the universe the Apostle tells us that the Lord Himself will descend with a shout, with the voice of the archangel 1 Thessalonians 4:16, and by a trumpet sound raise up the dead to incorruption— so now too he who is in the tomb, at the voice of command, shakes off death as if it were a sleep, and ridding himself from the corruption that had come upon his condition of a corpse, leaps forth from the tomb whole and sound, not even hindered in his egress by the bonds of the grave-cloths round his feet and hands.
12. Are these things too small to produce faith in the resurrection of the dead? Or do you seek that your judgment on this point should be confirmed by yet other proofs? In truth the Lord seems to me not to have spoken in vain to them of Capernaum, when He said to Himself, as in the person of men, You will surely say unto me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself. ‘For it behooved Him, when He had accustomed men to the miracle of the resurrection in other bodies, to confirm His word in His own humanity. You saw the thing proclaimed working in others— those who were about to die, the child which had just ceased to live, the young man at the edge of the grave, the putrefying corpse, all alike restored by one command to life. Do you seek for those who have come to death by wounds and bloodshed? Does any feebleness of life-giving power hinder the grace in them? Behold Him Whose hands were pierced with nails: behold Him Whose side was transfixed with a spear; pass your fingers through the print of the nails; thrust your hand into the spear-wound; you can surely guess how far within it is likely the point would reach, if you reckon the passage inwards by the breadth of the external scar; for the wound that gives admission to a man’s hand, shows to what depth within the iron entered. If He then has been raised, well may we utter the Apostle’s exclamation, how say some that there is no resurrection of the dead 1 Corinthians 15:12?
13. Since, then, every prediction of the Lord is shown to be true by the testimony of events, while we not only have learned this by His words, but also received the proof of the promise in deed, from those very persons who returned to life by resurrection, what occasion is left to those who disbelieve? Shall we not bid farewell to those who pervert our simple faith by philosophy and vain deceit Colossians 2:8, and hold fast to our confession in its purity, learning briefly through the prophet the mode of the grace, by his words, You shall take away their breath and they shall fail, and turn to their dust. You shall send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created, and You shall renew the face of the earth; at which time also he says that the Lord rejoices in His works, sinners having perished from the earth: for how shall anyone be called by the name of sin, when sin itself exists no longer?
Creation Day 6 part 3 MAN . part 4 of 4-Conclusion coming soon
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YouTube: St. Michael’s Monastery and the New Warrior Ministries
Now, YouTube doesn’t always agree with my viewpoint on what is happening in the world so I have two other channels, sometimes one of them does not agree either and so I need the other one, sometimes I speak for too long a time and the one will not accept the video but the other one will so I have videos spread out over three different channels.
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