Creation Day 6 part 3
MAN part 4 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 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
XXVI. That the resurrection is not beyond probability.
1. There are, however, some who, owing to the feebleness of human reasoning, judging the Divine power by the compass of our own, maintain that what is beyond our capacity is not possible even to God. They point to the disappearance of the dead of old time, and to the remains of those who have been reduced to ashes by fire; and further, besides these, they bring forward in idea the carnivorous beasts, and the fish that receives in its own body the flesh of the shipwrecked sailor, while this again in turn becomes food for men, and passes by digestion into the bulk of him who eats it: and they rehearse many such trivialities, unworthy of God’s great power and authority, for the overthrow of the doctrine, arguing as though God were not able to restore to man his own, by return through the same ways.
2. But we briefly cut short their long circuits of logical folly by acknowledging that dissolution of the body into its component parts does take place, and not only does earth, according to the Divine word, return to earth, but air and moisture also revert to the kindred element, and there takes place a return of each of our components to that nature to which it is allied; and although the human body be dispersed among carnivorous birds, or among the most savage beasts by becoming their food, and although it pass beneath the teeth of fish, and although it be changed by fire into vapour and dust, wheresoever one may in argument suppose the man to be removed, he surely remains in the world; and the world, the voice of inspiration tells us, is held by the hand of God. If you, then, are not ignorant of any of the things in your hand, do you deem the knowledge of God to be feebler than your own power, that it should fail to discover the most minute of the things that are within the compass of the Divine span?
XXVII. That it is possible, when the human body is dissolved into the elements of the universe, that each should have his own body restored from the common source.
1. Yet it may be you think, having regard to the elements of the universe, that it is a hard thing when the air in us has been resolved into its kindred element, and the warmth, and moisture, and the earthy nature have likewise been mingled with their own kind, that from the common source there should return to the individual what belongs to itself.
2. Do you not then judge by human examples that even this does not surpass the limits of the Divine power? You have seen surely somewhere among the habitations of men a common herd of some kind of animals collected from every quarter: yet when it is again divided among its owners, acquaintance with their homes and the marks put upon the cattle serve to restore to each his own. If you conceive of yourself also something like to this, you will not be far from the right way: for as the soul is disposed to cling to and long for the body that has been wedded to it, there also attaches to it in secret a certain close relationship and power of recognition, in virtue of their commixture, as though some marks had been imprinted by nature, by the aid of which the community remains unconfused, separated by the distinctive signs. Now as the soul attracts again to itself that which is its own and properly belongs to it, what labour, I pray you, that is involved for the Divine power, could be a hindrance to concourse of kindred things when they are urged to their own place by the unspeakable attraction of nature, whatever it may be? For that some signs of our compound nature remain in the soul even after dissolution is shown by the dialogue in Hades Luke 16:24-31, where the bodies had been conveyed to the tomb, but some bodily token still remained in the souls by which both Lazarus was recognized and the rich man was not unknown.
3. There is therefore nothing beyond probability in believing that in the bodies that rise again there will be a return from the common stock to the individual, especially for anyone who examines our nature with careful attention. For neither does our being consist altogether in flux and change— for surely that which had by nature no stability would be absolutely incomprehensible— but according to the more accurate statement some one of our constituent parts is stationary while the rest goes through a process of alteration: for the body is on the one hand altered by way of growth and diminution, changing, like garments, the vesture of its successive statures, while the form, on the other hand, remains in itself unaltered through every change, not varying from the marks once imposed upon it by nature, but appearing with its own tokens of identity in all the changes which the body undergoes.
4. We must except, however, from this statement the change which happens to the form as the result of disease: for the deformity of sickness takes possession of the form like some strange mask, and when this is removed by the word , as in the case of Naaman the Syrian, or of those whose story is recorded in the Gospel, the form that had been hidden by disease is once more by means of health restored to sight again with its own marks of identity.
5. Now to the element of our soul which is in the likeness of God it is not that which is subject to flux and change by way of alteration, but this stable and unalterable element in our composition that is allied: and since various differences of combination produce varieties of forms (and combination is nothing else than the mixture of the elements— by elements we mean those which furnish the substratum for the making of the universe, of which the human body also is composed), while the form necessarily remains in the soul as in the impression of a seal, those things which have received from the seal the impression of its stamp do not fail to be recognized by the soul, but at the time of the World-Reformation, it receives back to itself all those things which correspond to the stamp of the form: and surely all those things would so correspond which in the beginning were stamped by the form; thus it is not beyond probability that what properly belongs to the individual should once more return to it from the common source.
6. It is said also that quicksilver, if poured out from the vessel that contains it down a dusty slope, forms small globules and scatters itself over the ground, mingling with none of those bodies with which it meets: but if one should collect at one place the substance dispersed in many directions, it flows back to its kindred substance, if not hindered by anything intervening from mixing with its own kind. Something of the same sort, I think, we ought to understand also of the composite nature of man, that if only the power were given it of God, the proper parts would spontaneously unite with those belonging to them, without any obstruction on their account arising to Him Who reforms their nature.
7. Furthermore, in the case of plants that grow from the ground, we do not observe any labour on the part of nature spent on the wheat or millet or any other seed of grain or pulse, in changing it into stalk or spike or ears; for the proper nourishment passes spontaneously, without trouble, from the common source to the individuality of each of the seeds. If, then, while the moisture supplied to all the plants is common, each of those plants which is nourished by it draws the due supply for its own growth, what new thing is it if in the doctrine of the resurrection also, as in the case of the seeds, it happens that there is an attraction on the part of each of those who rise, of what belongs to himself?
8. So that we may learn on all hands, that the preaching of the resurrection contains nothing beyond those facts which are known to us experimentally.
9. And yet we have said nothing of the most notable point concerning ourselves; I mean the first beginning of our existence. Who knows not the miracle of nature, what the maternal womb receives— what it produces? You see how that which is implanted in the womb to be the beginning of the formation of the body is in a manner simple and homogeneous: but what language can express the variety of the composite body that is framed? And who, if he did not learn such a thing in nature generally, would think that to be possible which does take place— that that small thing of no account is the beginning of a thing so great? Great, I say, not only with regard to the bodily formation, but to what is more marvellous than this, I mean the soul itself, and the attributes we behold in it.
1. For it is perhaps not beyond our present subject to discuss the question which has been raised in the churches touching soul and body. Some of those before our time who have dealt with the question of principles think it right to say that souls have a previous existence as a people in a society of their own, and that among them also there are standards of vice and of virtue, and that the soul there, which abides in goodness, remains without experience of conjunction with the body; but if it does depart from its communion with good, it falls down to this lower life, and so comes to be in a body. Others, on the contrary, marking the order of the making of man as stated by Moses, say, that the soul is second to the body in order of time, since God first took dust from the earth and formed man, and then animated the being thus formed by His breath : and by this argument they prove that the flesh is more noble than the soul; that which was previously formed than that which was afterwards infused into it: for they say that the soul was made for the body, that the thing formed might not be without breath and motion; and that everything that is made for something else is surely less precious than that for which it is made, as the Gospel tells us that the soul is more than meat and the body than raiment , because the latter things exist for the sake of the former— for the soul was not made for meat nor our bodies for raiment, but when the former things were already in being the latter were provided for their needs.
2. Since then the doctrine involved in both these theories is open to criticism— the doctrine alike of those who ascribe to souls a fabulous pre-existence in a special state, and of those who think they were created at a later time than the bodies, it is perhaps necessary to leave none of the statements contained in the doctrines without examination: yet to engage and wrestle with the doctrines on each side completely, and to reveal all the absurdities involved in the theories, would need a large expenditure both of argument and of time; we shall, however, briefly survey as best we can each of the views mentioned, and then resume our subject.
3. Those who stand by the former doctrine, and assert that the state of souls is prior to their life in the flesh, do not seem to me to be clear from the fabulous doctrines of the heathen which they hold on the subject of successive incorporation: for if one should search carefully, he will find that their doctrine is of necessity brought down to this. They tell us that one of their sages said that he, being one and the same person, was born a man, and afterwards assumed the form of a woman, and flew about with the birds, and grew as a bush, and obtained the life of an aquatic creature—and he who said these things of himself did not, so far as I can judge, go far from the truth: for such doctrines as this of saying that one soul passed through so many changes are really fitting for the chatter of frogs or jackdaws (a bird in the crow family), or the stupidity of fishes, or the insensibility of trees.
4. And of such absurdity the cause is this— the supposition of the pre-existence of souls for the first principle of such doctrine leads on the argument by consequence to the next and adjacent stage, until it astonishes us by reaching this point. For if the soul, being severed from the more exalted state by some wickedness after having once, as they say, tasted corporeal life, again becomes a man, and if the life in the flesh is, as may be presumed, acknowledged to be, in comparison with the eternal and incorporeal life, more subject to passion, it naturally follows that that which comes to be in a life such as to contain more occasions of sin, is both placed in a region of greater wickedness and rendered more subject to passion than before (now passion in the human soul is a conformity to the likeness of the irrational); and that being brought into close connection with this, it descends to the brute nature: and that when it has once set out on its way through wickedness, it does not cease its advance towards evil even when found in an irrational condition: for a halt in evil is the beginning of the impulse towards virtue, and in irrational creatures virtue does not exist. Thus it will of necessity be continually changed for the worse, always proceeding to what is more degraded and always finding out what is worse than the nature in which it is: and just as the sensible nature is lower than the rational, so too there is a descent from this to the insensible.
5. Now so far in its course their doctrine, even if it does overstep the bounds of truth, at all events derives one absurdity from another by a kind of logical sequence: but from this point onwards their teaching takes the form of incoherent fable. Strict inference points to the complete destruction of the soul; for that which has once fallen from the exalted state will be unable to halt at any measure of wickedness, but will pass by means of its relation with the passions from rational to irrational, and from the latter state will be transferred to the insensibility of plants; and on the insensible there borders, so to say, the inanimate; and on this again follows the non-existent, so that absolutely by this train of reasoning they will have the soul to pass into nothing: thus a return once more to the better state is impossible for it: and yet they make the soul return from a bush to the man: they therefore prove that the life in a bush is more precious than an incorporeal state.
6. It has been shown that the process of deterioration which takes place in the soul will probably be extended downwards; and lower than the insensible we find the inanimate, to which, by consequence, the principle of their doctrine brings the soul: but as they will not have this, they either exclude the soul from insensibility, or, if they are to bring it back to human life, they must, as has been said, declare the life of a tree to be preferable to the original state— if, that is, the fall towards vice took place from the one, and the return towards virtue takes place from the other.
7. Thus this doctrine of theirs, which maintains that souls have a life by themselves before their life in the flesh, and that they are by reason of wickedness bound to their bodies, is shown to have neither beginning nor conclusion: and as for those who assert that the soul is of later creation than the body, their absurdity was already demonstrated above.
8. The doctrine of both, then, is equally to be rejected; but I think that we ought to direct our own doctrine in the way of truth between these theories: and this doctrine is that we are not to suppose, according to the error of the heathen that the souls that revolve with the motion of the universe weighed down by some wickedness, fall to earth by inability to keep up with the swiftness of the motion of the spheres.
XXIX. An establishment of the doctrine that the cause of the existence of soul and body is one and the same.
1. Nor again are we in our doctrine to begin by making up man like a clay figure, and to say that the soul came into being for the sake of this; for surely in that case the intellectual nature would be shown to be less precious than the clay figure. But as man is one, the being consisting of soul and body, we are to suppose that the beginning of his existence is one, common to both parts, so that he should not be found to be antecedent and posterior to himself, if the bodily element were first in point of time, and the other were a later addition; but we are to say that in the power of God’s foreknowledge (according to the doctrine laid down a little earlier in our discourse), all the fullness of human nature had pre-existence (and to this the prophetic writing bears witness, which says that God knows all things before they be ), and in the creation of individuals not to place the one element before the other, neither the soul before the body, nor the contrary, that man may not be at strife against himself, by being divided by the difference in point of time.
2. For as our nature is conceived as twofold, according to the apostolic teaching, made up of the visible man and the hidden man, if the one came first and the other supervened, the power of Him that made us will be shown to be in some way imperfect, as not being completely sufficient for the whole task at once, but dividing the work, and busying itself with each of the halves in turn.
3. But just as we say that in wheat, or in any other grain, the whole form of the plant is potentially included— the leaves, the stalk, the joints, the grain, the beard— and do not say in our account of its nature that any of these things has pre-existence, or comes into being before the others, but that the power abiding in the seed is manifested in a certain natural order, not by any means that another nature is infused into it— in the same way we suppose the human germ to possess the potentiality of its nature, sown with it at the first start of its existence, and that it is unfolded and manifested by a natural sequence as it proceeds to its perfect state, not employing anything external to itself as a stepping-stone to perfection, but itself advancing its own self in due course to the perfect state; so that it is not true to say either that the soul exists before the body, or that the body exists without the soul, but that there is one beginning of both, which according to the heavenly view was laid as their foundation in the original will of God; according to the other, came into existence on the occasion of generation.
4. For as we cannot discern the articulation of the limbs in that which is implanted for the conception of the body before it begins to take form, so neither is it possible to perceive in the same the properties of the soul before they advance to operation; and just as no one would doubt that the thing so implanted is fashioned into the different varieties of limbs and interior organs, not by the importation of any other power from without, but by the power which resides in it transforming it to this manifestation of energy—so also we may by like reasoning equally suppose in the case of the soul that even if it is not visibly recognized by any manifestations of activity it none the less is there; for even the form of the future man is there potentially, but is concealed because it is not possible that it should be made visible before the necessary sequence of events allows it; so also the soul is there, even though it is not visible, and will be manifested by means of its own proper and natural operation, as it advances concurrently with the bodily growth.
5. For since it is not from a dead body that the potentiality for conception is secreted, but from one which is animate and alive, we hence affirm that it is reasonable that we should not suppose that what is sent forth from a living body to be the occasion of life is itself dead and inanimate; for in the flesh that which is inanimate is surely dead; and the condition of death arises by the withdrawal of the soul. Would not one therefore in this case be asserting that withdrawal is antecedent to possession— if, that is, he should maintain that the inanimate state which is the condition of death is antecedent to the soul ? And if anyone should seek for a still clearer evidence of the life of that particle which becomes the beginning of the living creature in its formation, it is possible to obtain an idea on this point from other signs also, by which what is animate is distinguished from what is dead. For in the case of men we consider it an evidence of life that one is warm and operative and in motion, but the chill and motionless state in the case of bodies is nothing else than deadness.
6. Since then we see that of which we are speaking to be warm and operative, we thereby draw the further inference that it is not inanimate; but as, in respect of its corporeal part, we do not say that it is flesh, and bones, and hair, and all that we observe in the human being, but that potentially it is each of these things, yet does not visibly appear to be so; so also of the part which belongs to the soul, the elements of rationality, and desire, and anger, and all the powers of the soul are not yet visible; yet we assert that they have their place in it, and that the energies of the soul also grow with the subject in a manner similar to the formation and perfection of the body.
7. For just as a man when perfectly developed has a specially marked activity of the soul, so at the beginning of his existence he shows in himself that co-operation of the soul which is suitable and conformable to his existing need, in its preparing for itself its proper dwelling-place by means of the implanted matter; for we do not suppose it possible that the soul is adapted to a strange building, just as it is not possible that the seal impressed on wax should be fitted to an engraving that does not agree with it.
8. For as the body proceeds from a very small original to the perfect state, so also the operation of the soul, growing in correspondence with the subject, gains and increases with it. For at its first formation there comes first of all its power of growth and nutriment alone, as though it were some root buried in the ground; for the limited nature of the recipient does not admit of more; then, as the plant comes forth to the light and shows its shoot to the sun, the gift of sensibility blossoms in addition, but when at last it is ripened and has grown up to its proper height, the power of reason begins to shine forth like a fruit, not appearing in its whole vigour all at once, but by care increasing with the perfection of the instrument, bearing always as much fruit as the powers of the subject allow.
9. If, however, you seek to trace the operation of the soul in the formation of the body, take heed to yourself Deuteronomy 4:23, (Beware lest you ever forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he has made with you: and make to yourself a graven likeness of those things which the Lord has forbid to be made:) as Moses says, and you will read, as in a book, the history of the works of the soul; for nature itself expounds to you, more clearly than any discourse, the varied occupations of the soul in the body, alike in general and in particular acts of construction.
10. But I deem it superfluous to declare at length in words what is to be found in ourselves, as though we were expounding some wonder that lay beyond our boundaries:— who that looks on himself needs words to teach him his own nature? For it is possible for one who considers the mode of his own life, and learns how closely concerned the body is in every vital operation, to know in what the vegetative principle of the soul was occupied on the occasion of the first formation of that which was beginning its existence; so that hereby also it is clear to those who have given any attention to the matter, that the thing which was implanted by separation from the living body for the production of the living being was not a thing dead or inanimate in the laboratory of nature.
11. Moreover we plant in the ground the kernels of fruits, and portions torn from roots, not deprived by death of the vital power which naturally resides in them, but preserving in themselves, hidden indeed, yet surely living, the property of their prototype; the earth that surrounds them does not implant such a power from without, infusing it from itself (for surely then even dead wood would proceed to growth), but it makes that manifest which resides in them, nourishing it by its own moisture, perfecting the plant into root, and bark, and pith, and shoots of branches, which could not happen were not a natural power implanted with it, which drawing to itself from its surroundings its kindred and proper nourishment, becomes a bush, or a tree, or an ear of grain, or some plant of the class of shrubs.
1. Now the exact structure of our body each man teaches himself by his experiences of sight and light and perception, having his own nature to instruct him; any one too may learn everything accurately who takes up the researches which those skilled in such matters have worked out in books. And of these writers some learned by dissection the position of our individual organs; others also considered and expounded the reason for the existence of all the parts of the body; so that the knowledge of the human frame which hence results is sufficient for students. But if any one further seeks that the Church should be his teacher on all these points, so that he may not need for anything the voice of those without (for this is the wont of the spiritual sheep, as the Lord says, that they hear not a strange voice ), we shall briefly take in hand the account of these matters also.
2. We note concerning our bodily nature three things, for the sake of which our particular parts were formed. Life is the cause of some, good life of others, others again are adapted with a view to the succession of descendants. All things in us which are of such a kind that without them it is not possible that human life should exist, we consider as being in three parts; in the brain, the heart, and the liver. Again, all that are a sort of additional blessings, nature’s liberality, whereby she bestows on man the gift of living well, are the organs of sense; for such things do not constitute our life, since even where some of them are wanting man is often none the less in a condition of life; but without these forms of activity it is impossible to enjoy participation in the pleasures of life. The third aim regards the future, and the succession of life. There are also certain other organs besides these, which help, in common with all the others, to subserve (to help to further, promote, or bring something about) the continuance of life, importing by their own means the proper supplies, as the stomach and the lungs, the latter fanning by respiration the fire at the heart, the former introducing the nourishment for the internal organs.
3. Our structure, then, being thus divided, we have carefully to mark that our faculty for life is not supported in any one way by some single organ, but nature, while distributing the means for our existence among several parts, makes the contribution of each individual necessary for the whole; just as the things which nature contrives for the security and beauty of life are also numerous, and differ much among themselves.
4. We ought, however, I think, first to discuss briefly the first beginnings of the things which contribute to the constitution of our life. As for the material of the whole body which serves as a common substratum for the particular members, it may for the present be left without remark; for a discussion as to natural substance in general will not be of any assistance to our purpose with regard to the consideration of the parts.
5. As it is then acknowledged by all that there is in us a share of all that we behold as elements in the universe— of heat and cold, and of the other pair of qualities of moisture and dryness— we must discuss them severally.
6. We see then that the powers which control life are three, of which the first by its heat produces general warmth, the second by its moisture keeps damp that which is warmed, so that the living being is kept in an intermediate condition by the equal balance of the forces exerted by the quality of each of the opposing natures (the moist element not being dried up by excess of heat, nor the hot element quenched by the prevalence of moisture); and the third power by its own agency holds together the separate members in a certain agreement and harmony, connecting them by the ties which it itself furnishes, and sending into them all that self-moving and determining force, on the failure of which the member becomes relaxed and deadened, being left destitute of the determining spirit.
7. Or rather, before dealing with these, it is right that we should mark the skilled workmanship of nature in the actual construction of the body. For as that which is hard and resistant does not admit the action of the senses (as we may see in the instance of our own bones, and in that of plants in the ground, where we remark indeed a certain form of life in that they grow and receive nourishment, yet the resistant character of their substance does not allow them sensation), for this reason it was necessary that some wax-like formation, so to say, should be supplied for the action of the senses, with the faculty of being impressed with the stamp of things capable of striking them, neither becoming confused by excess of moisture (for the impress would not remain in moist substance), nor resisting by extraordinary solidity (for that which is unyielding would not receive any mark from the impressions), but being in a state between softness and hardness, in order that the living being might not be destitute of the fairest of all the operations of nature— I mean the motion of sense.
8. Now as a soft and yielding substance, if it had no assistance from the hard parts, would certainly have, like mollusks, neither motion nor articulation, nature accordingly mingles in the body the hardness of the bones, and uniting these by close connection one to another, and knitting their joints together by means of the sinews, thus plants around them the flesh which receives sensations, furnished with a somewhat harder and more highly-strung surface than it would otherwise have had.
9. While resting, then, the whole weight of the body on this substance of the bones, as on some columns that carry a mass of building, she did not implant the bone undivided through the whole structure: for in that case man would have remained without motion or activity, if he had been so constructed, just like a tree that stands on one spot without either the alternate motion of legs to advance its motion or the service of hands to minister to the conveniences of life: but now we see that she contrived that the instrument should be rendered capable of walking and working by this device, after she had implanted in the body, by the determining spirit which extends through the nerves, the impulse and power for motion. And hence is produced the service of the hands, so varied and multiform, and answering to every thought. Hence are produced, as though by some mechanical contrivance, the turnings of the neck, and the bending and raising of the head, and the action of the chin, and the separation of the eyelids, that takes place with a thought, and the movements of the other joints, by the tightening or relaxation of certain nerves. And the power that extends through these exhibits a sort of independent impulse, working with the spirit of its will by a sort of natural management, in each particular part; but the root of all, and the principle of the motions of the nerves, is found in the nervous tissue that surrounds the brain.
10. We consider, then, that we need not spend more time in inquiring in which of the vital members such a thing resides, when the energy of motion is shown to be here. But that the brain contributes to life in a special degree is shown clearly by the result of the opposite conditions: for if the tissue surrounding it receives any wound or lesion, death immediately follows the injury, nature being unable to endure the hurt even for a moment; just as, when a foundation is withdrawn, the whole building collapses with the part; and that member, from an injury to which the destruction of the whole living being clearly follows, may properly be acknowledged to contain the cause of life.
11. But as furthermore in those who have ceased to live, when the heat that is implanted in our nature is quenched, that which has become dead grows cold, we hence recognize the vital cause also in heat: for we must of necessity acknowledge that the living being subsists by the presence of that, which failing, the condition of death supervenes. And of such a force we understand the heart to be as it were the fountain-head and principle, as from it pipe-like passages, growing one from another in many ramifications, diffuse in the whole body the warm and fiery spirit.
12. And since some nourishment must needs also be provided by nature for the element of heat— for it is not possible that the fire should last by itself, without being nourished by its proper food— therefore the channels of the blood, issuing from the liver as from a fountainhead, accompany the warm spirit everywhere in its way throughout the body, that the one may not by isolation from the other become a disease and destroy the constitution. Let this instruct those who go beyond the bounds of fairness, as they learn from nature that covetousness is a disease that breeds destruction.
13. But since the Divinity alone is free from needs, while human poverty requires external aid for its own subsistence, nature therefore, in addition to those three powers by which we said that the whole body is regulated, brings in imported matter from without, introducing by different entrances that which is suitable to those powers.
14. For to the fount of the blood, which is the liver, she furnishes its supply by food: for that which from time to time is imported in this way prepares the springs of blood to issue from the liver, as the snow on the mountain by its own moisture increases the springs in the low ground, forcing its own fluid deep down to the veins below.
15. The breath in the heart is supplied by means of the neighbouring organ, which is called the lungs, and is a receptacle for air, drawing the breath from without through the windpipe inserted in it, which extends to the mouth. The heart being placed in the midst of this organ (and itself also moving incessantly in imitation of the action of the ever-moving fire), draws to itself, somewhat as the bellows do in the forges, a supply from the adjacent air, filling its recesses by dilatation, and while it fans its own fiery element, breathes upon the adjoining tubes; and this it does not cease to do, drawing the external air into its own recesses by dilatation, and by compression infusing the air from itself into the tubes.
16. And this seems to me to be the cause of this spontaneous respiration of ours; for often the mind is occupied in discourse with others, or is entirely quiescent when the body is relaxed in sleep, but the respiration of air does not cease, though the will gives no co-operation to this end. Now I suppose, since the heart is surrounded by the lungs, and in the back part of its own structure is attached to them, moving that organ by its own dilatations and compressions, that the inhaling and exhaling of the air is brought about by the lungs: for as they are a lightly built and porous body, and have all their recesses opening at the base of the windpipe, when they contract and are compressed they necessarily force out by pressure the air that is left in their cavities; and, when they expand and open, draw the air, by their distention, into the void by suction.
17. This then is the cause of this involuntary respiration— the impossibility that the fiery element should remain at rest: for as the operation of motion is proper to heat, and we understand that the principle of heat is to be found in the heart, the continual motion going on in this organ produces the incessant inspiration and exhalation of the air through the lungs: wherefore also when the fiery element is unnaturally augmented, the breathing of those fevered subjects becomes more rapid, as though the heart were endeavouring to quench the flame implanted in it by more violent breathing.
18. But since our nature is poor and in need of supplies for its own maintenance from all quarters, it not only lacks air of its own, and the breath which excites heat, which it imports from without for the preservation of the living being, but the nourishment it finds to fill out the proportions of the body is an importation. Accordingly, it supplies the deficiency by food and drink, implanting in the body a certain faculty for appropriating that which it requires, and rejecting that which is superfluous, and for this purpose also the fire of the heart gives nature no small assistance.
19. For since, according to the account we have given, the heart which kindles by its warm breath the individual parts, is the most important of the vital organs, our Maker caused it to be operative with its efficacious power at all points, that no part of it might be left ineffectual or unprofitable for the regulation of the whole organism. Behind, therefore, it enters the lungs, and, by its continuous motion, drawing that organ to itself, it expands the passages to inhale the air, and compressing them again it brings about the expiration of the imprisoned air; while in front, attached to the space at the upper extremity of the stomach, it warms it and makes it respond by motion to its own activity, rousing it, not to inhale air, but to receive its appropriate food: for the entrances for breath and food are near one another, extending lengthwise one alongside the other, and are terminated in their upper extremity by the same boundary, so that their mouths are contiguous and the passages come to an end together in one mouth, from which the entrance of food is effected through the one, and that of the breath through the other.
20. Internally, however, the closeness of the connection of the passages is not maintained throughout; for the heart intervening between the base of the two, infuses in the one the powers for respiration, and in the other for nutriment. Now the fiery element is naturally inclined to seek for the material which serves as fuel, and this necessarily happens with regard to the receptacle of nourishment; for the more it becomes penetrated by fire through the neighbouring warmth, the more it draws to itself what nourishes the heat. And this sort of impulse we call appetite.
21. But if the organ which contains the food should obtain sufficient material, not even so does the activity of the fire become quiescent (inactive): but it produces a sort of melting of the material just as in a foundry, and, dissolving the solids, pours them out and transfers them, as it were from a funnel, to the neighbouring passages: then separating the coarser from the pure substance, it passes the fine part through certain channels to the entrance of the liver, and expels the sedimentary matter of the food to the wider passages of the bowels, and by turning it over in their manifold windings retains the food for a time in the intestines, lest if it were easily got rid of by a straight passage it might at once excite the animal again to appetite, and man, like the race of irrational animals, might never cease from this sort of occupation.
22. As we saw, however, that the liver has special need of the co-operation of heat for the conversion of the fluids into blood, while this organ is in position distant from the heart (for it would, I imagine, have been impossible that, being one principle or root of the vital power, it should not be hampered by vicinity with another such principle), in order that the system may suffer no injury by the distance at which the heat-giving substance is placed, a muscular passage (and this, by those skilled in such matters, is called the artery) receives the heated air from the heart and conveys it to the liver, making its opening there somewhere beside the point at which the fluids enter, and, as it warms the moist substance by its heat, blends with the liquid something akin to fire, and makes the blood appear red with the fiery tint it produces.
23. Issuing thence again, certain twin channels, each enclosing its own current like a pipe, disperse air and blood (that the liquid substance may have free course when accompanied and lightened by the motion of the heated substance) in various directions over the whole body, breaking at every part into countless branching channels; while as the two principles of the vital powers mingle together (that alike which disperses heat, and that which supplies moisture to all parts of the body), they make, as it were, a sort of compulsory contribution from the substance with which they deal to the supreme force in the vital economy.
24. Now this force is that which is considered as residing in the cerebral membranes and the brain, from which it comes that every movement of a joint, every contraction of the muscles, every spontaneous influence that is exerted upon the individual members, renders our earthen statue active and mobile as though by some mechanism. For the most pure form of heat and the most subtle form of liquid, being united by their respective forces through a process of mixture and combination, nourish and sustain by their moisture the brain, and hence in turn, being rarefied to the most pure condition, the exhalation that proceeds from that organ anoints the membrane which encloses the brain, which, reaching from above downwards like a pipe, extending through the successive vertebræ;, is (itself and the marrow which is contained in it) conterminous with the base of the spine, itself giving like a charioteer the impulse and power to all the meeting-points of bones and joints, and to the branches of the muscles, for the motion or rest of the particular parts.
25. For this cause too it seems to me that it has been granted a more secure defense, being distinguished, in the head, by a double shelter of bones round about, and in the vertebræ; of the neck by the bulwarks formed by the projections of the spine as well as by the diversified interlacings of the very form of those vertebræ;, by which it is kept in freedom from all harm, enjoying safety by the defense that surrounds it.
26. So too one might suppose of the heart, that it is itself like some safe house fitted with the most solid defenses, fortified by the enclosing walls of the bones round about; for in rear there is the spine, strengthened on either side by the shoulder-blades, and on each flank the enfolding position of the ribs makes that which is in the midst between them difficult to injure; while in front the breast-bone and the juncture of the collar-bone serve as a defense, that its safety may be guarded at all points from external causes of danger.
27. As we see in husbandry, when the rain fall from the clouds or the overflow from the river channels causes the land beneath it to be saturated with moisture (let us suppose for our argument a garden, nourishing within its own compass countless varieties of trees, and all the forms of plants that grow from the ground, and whereof we contemplate the figure, quality, and individuality in great variety of detail); then, as these are nourished by the liquid element while they are in one spot, the power which supplies moisture to each individual among them is one in nature; but the individuality of the plants so nourished changes the liquid element into different qualities; for the same substance becomes bitter in wormwood, and is changed into a deadly juice in hemlock, and becomes different in different other plants, in saffron, in balsam, in the poppy: for in one it becomes hot, in another cold, in another it obtains the middle quality: and in laurel and mastic it is scented, and in the fig and the pear it is sweetened, and by passing through the vine it is turned into the grape and into wine; while the juice of the apple, the redness of the rose, the radiance of the lily, the blue of the violet, the purple of the hyacinthine dye, and all that we behold in the earth, arise from one and the same moisture, and are separated into so many varieties in respect of figure and aspect and quality; the same sort of wonder is wrought in the animated soil of our being by Nature, or rather by Nature’s Lord. Bones, cartilages, veins, arteries, nerves, ligatures, flesh, skin, fat, hair, glands, nails, eyes, nostrils, ears—all such things as these, and countless others in addition, while separated from one another by various peculiarities, are nourished by the one form of nourishment in ways proper to their own nature, in the sense that the nourishment, when it is brought into close relation with any of the subjects, is also changed according to that to which it approaches, and becomes adapted and allied to the special nature of the part. For if it should be in the neighborhood of the eye, it blends with the visual part and is appropriately distributed by the difference of the coats round the eye, among the single parts; or, if it flow to the auditory parts, it is mingled with the auscultatory (sound or silent) nature, or if it is in the lip, it becomes lip; and it grows solid in bone, and grows soft in marrow, and is made tense with the sinew, and extended with the surface, and passes into the nails, and is fined down for the growth of the hair, by correspondent exhalations, producing hair that is somewhat curly or wavy if it makes its way through winding passages, while, if the course of the exhalations that go to form the hair lies straight, it renders the hair stiff and straight.
28. Our argument, however, has wandered far from its purpose, going deep into the works of nature, and endeavoring to describe how and from what materials our particular organs are formed, those, I mean, intended for life and for good life, and any other class which we included with these in our first division.
29. For our purpose was to show that the seminal cause of our constitution is neither a soul without body, nor a body without soul, but that, from animated and living bodies, it is generated at the first as a living and animate being, and that our humanity takes it and cherishes it like a nursling with the resources she herself possesses, and it thus grows on both sides and makes its growth manifest correspondingly in either part:— for it at once displays, by this artificial and scientific process of formation, the power of soul that is interwoven in it, appearing at first somewhat obscurely, but afterwards increasing in radiance concurrently with the perfecting of the work.
30. And as we may see with stone-carvers— for the artist’s purpose is to produce in stone the figure of some animal; and with this in his mind, he first severs the stone from its kindred matter, and then, by chipping away the superfluous parts of it, advances somehow by the intermediate step of his first outline to the imitation which he has in his purpose, so that even an unskilled observer may, by what he sees, conjecture the aim of his art; again, by working at it, he brings it more nearly to the semblance of the object he has in view; lastly, producing in the material the perfect and finished figure, he brings his art to its conclusion, and that which a little before was a shapeless stone is a lion, or a man, or whatsoever it may be that the artist has made, not by the change of the material into the figure, but by the figure being wrought upon the material. If one supposes the like in the case of the soul he is not far from probability; for we say that Nature, the all-contriving, takes from its kindred matter the part that comes from the man, and moulds her statue within herself. And as the form follows upon the gradual working of the stone, at first somewhat indistinct, but more perfect after the completion of the work, so too in the moulding of its instrument the form of the soul is expressed in the substratum, incompletely in that which is still incomplete, perfect in that which is perfect; indeed it would have been perfect from the beginning had our nature not been maimed by evil. Thus our community in that generation which is subject to passion and of animal nature, brings it about that the Divine image does not at once shine forth at our formation, but brings man to perfection by a certain method and sequence, through those attributes of the soul which are material, and belong rather to the animal creation.
31. Some such doctrine as this the great apostle also teaches us in his Epistle to the Corinthians, when he says, When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things 1 Corinthians 13:11 ; not that the soul which arises in the man is different from that which we know to be in the boy, and the childish intellect fails while the manly intellect takes its being in us; but that the same soul displays its imperfect condition in the one, its perfect state in the other.
32. For we say that those things are alive which spring up and grow, and no one would deny that all things that participate in life and natural motion are animate, yet at the same time one cannot say that such life partakes of a perfect soul—for though a certain animate operation exists in plants, it does not attain to the motions of sense; and on the other hand, though a certain further animate power exists in the brutes, neither does this attain perfection, since it does not contain in itself the grace of reason and intelligence.
33. And even so we say that the true and perfect soul is the human soul, recognized by every operation; and anything else that shares in life we call animate by a sort of customary misuse of language, because in these cases the soul does not exist in a perfect condition, but only certain parts of the operation of the soul, which in man also (according to Moses’ mystical account of man’s origin) we learn to have accrued when he made himself like this sensuous world. Thus Paul, advising those who were able to hear him to lay hold on perfection, indicates also the mode in which they may attain that object, telling them that they must put off the old man, and put on the man which is renewed after the image of Him that created him Colossians 3:9-10 .
34. Now may we all return to that Divine grace in which God at the first created man, when He said, Let us make man in our image and likeness; to Whom be glory and might for ever and ever. Amen.
This will conclude the discussion on Creation Day 6: the creation of Man; part 4 of 4. Creation Day 7 next.
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