Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.52 On the resurrection Part 1

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Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.52 On the resurrection Part 1

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 25.01.52 On the resurrection Part 1

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On the Soul and the Resurrection


The mind, in times of bereavement, craves a certainty gained by reasoning as to the existence of the soul after death.

First, then: Virtue will be impossible, if deprived of the life of eternity, her only advantage.

But this is a moral argument. The case calls for speculative and scientific treatment.

How is the objection that the nature of the soul, as of real things, is material, to be met?

Thus; the truth of this doctrine would involve the truth of Atheism; whereas Atheism is refuted by the fact of the wise order that reigns in the world. In other words, the spirituality of God cannot be denied: and this proves the possibility of spiritual or immaterial existence: and therefore, that of the soul.

But is God, then, the same thing as the soul?

No: but man is "a little world in himself;" and we may with the same right conclude from this Microcosm to the actual existence of an immaterial soul, as from the phenomena of the world to the reality of God's existence.

A Definition of the soul is then given, for the sake of clearness in the succeeding discussion. It is a created, living, intellectual being, with the power, as long as it is provided with organs, of sensuous perception. For "the mind sees," not the eye; take, for instance, the meaning of the phases of the moon. The objection that the "organic machine" of the body produces all thought is met by the instance of the water-organ. Such machines, if thought were really an attribute of matter, ought to build themselves spontaneously: whereas they are a direct proof of an invisible thinking power in man. A work of Art means mind: there is a thing perceived, and a thing not perceived.

But still, what is this thing not perceived?

If it has no sensible quality whatever-Where is it?

The answer is, that the same question might be asked about the Deity (Whose existence is not denied).

Then the Mind and the Deity are identical?

Not so: in its substantial existence, as separable from matter, the soul is like God; but this likeness does not extend to sameness; it resembles God as a copy the original.

As being "simple and uncompounded" the soul survives the dissolution of the composite body, whose scattered elements it will continue to accompany, as if watching over its property till the Resurrection, when it will clothe itself in them anew.

The soul was defined "an intellectual being." But anger and desire are not of the body either. Are there, then, two or three souls?-Answer. Anger and desire do not belong to the essence of the soul, but are only among its varying states; they are not originally part of ourselves, and we can and must rid ourselves of them, and bring them, as long as they continue to mark our community with the brute creation, into the service of the good. They are the "tares" of the heart, while they serve any other purpose.

But where will the soul "accompany its elements"?-Hades is not a particular spot; it means the Invisible; those passages in the Bible in which the regions under the earth are alluded to are explained as allegorical, although the partizans of the opposite interpretation need not be combated.

But how will the soul know the scattered elements of the once familiar form? This is answered by two illustrations (not analogies). The skill of the painter, the force that has united numerous colours to form a single tint, will, if (by some miracle) that actual tint was to fall back into those various colours, be cognizant of each one of these last, e. g. the tone and size of the drop of gold, of red, &c.; and could at will recombine them. The owner of a cup of clay would know its fragments (by their shape) amidst a mass of fragments of clay vessels of other shapes, or even if they were plunged again into their native clay. So the soul knows its elements amidst their "kindred dust"; or when each one has flitted back to its own primeval source on the confines of the Universe.

But how does this harmonize with the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus?

The bodies of both were in the grave: and so all that is said of them is in a spiritual sense. But the soul can suffer still, being cognizant, not only of the elements of the whole body, but of those that formed each member, e. g. the tongue. By the relations of the Rich Man are meant the impressions made on his soul by the things of flesh and blood.

But if we must have no emotions in the next world, how shall there be virtue, and how shall there be love of God? For anger, we saw, contributed to the one, desire to the other.

We shall be like God so far that we shall always contemplate the Beautiful in Him. Now, God, in contemplating Himself, has no desire and hope, no regret and memory. The moment of fruition is always present, and so His Love is perfect, without the need of any emotion. So will it be with us. God draws "that which belongs to Him" to this blessed passionlessness; and in this very drawing consists the torment of a passion-laden soul. Severe and long-continued pains in eternity are thus decreed to sinners, not because God hates them, nor for the sake alone of punishing them; but "because what belongs to God must at any cost be preserved for Him." The degree of pain which must be endured by each one is necessarily proportioned to the measure of the wickedness.

God will thus be "all in all"; yet the loved one's form will then be woven, though into a more ethereal texture, of the same elements as before. (This is not Nirvana.)

Here the doctrine of the Resurrection is touched. The Christian Resurrection and that of the heathen philosophies coincide in that the soul is reclothed from some elements of the Universe. But there are fatal objections to the latter under its two formsTransmigration pure and simple;The Platonic Soul-rotation.

The first-

1. Obliterates the distinction between the mineral or vegetable, and the spiritual, world.

2. Makes it a sin to eat and drink.


3. Confuse the moral choice.

4. Make heaven the cradle of vice, and earth of virtue.

5. Contradict the truth that they assume, that there is no change in heaven.

6. Attribute every birth to a vice, and therefore are either Atheist or Manichaean.

7. Make a life a chapter of accidents.

8. Contradict facts of moral character.

God is the cause of our life, both in body and soul.

But when and how does the soul come into existence?

The how we can never know.

There are objections to seeking the material for any created thing either in God, or outside God. But we may regard the whole Creation as the realized thoughts of God. (Anticipation of Malebranche.)

The when may be determined. Objections to the existence of soul before body have been given above. But soul is necessary to life, and the embryo lives.

Therefore soul is not born after body. So body and soul are born together.

As to the number of souls, Humanity itself is a thought of God not yet completed, as these continual additions prove. When it is completed, this "progress of Humanity" will cease, by there being no more births: and no births, no deaths.

Before answering objections to the Scriptural doctrine of the Resurrection, the passages that contain it are mentioned: especially Psalm cxviii. 27 (LXX.).

The various objections to it, to the Purgatory to follow, and to the Judgment, are then stated; especially that

A man is not the same being (physically) two days together. Which phase of him, then, is to rise again, be tortured (if need be), and judged?

They are all answered by a Definition of the Resurrection, i.e. the restoration of man to his original state. In that, there is neither age nor infancy; and the "coats of skins" are laid aside.

When the process of purification has been completed, the better attributes of the soul appear-imperishability, life, honour, grace, glory, power, and, in short, all that belongs to human nature as the image of Deity.

On the Soul and the Resurrection

Basil, great amongst the saints, had departed from this life to God; and the impulse to mourn for him was shared by all the churches. But his sister the Teacher was still living; and so I journeyed to herhyperlink , yearning for an interchange of sympathy over the loss of her brother. My soul was right sorrow-stricken by this grievous blow, and I sought for one who could feel it equally, to mingle my tears with. But when we were in each other's presence the sight of the Teacher awakened all my pain; for she too was lying in a state of prostration even unto death. Well, she gave in to me for a little while, like a skilful driver, in the ungovernable violence of my grief; and then she tried to check me by speaking, and to correct with the curb of her reasonings the disorder of my soul. She quoted the Apostle's words about the duty of not being "grieved for them that sleep"; because only "men without hope" have such feelings. With a heart still fermenting with my pain, I asked-

hyperlink How can that ever be practised by mankind? There is such an instinctive and deep-seated abhorrence of death in all! Those who look on a death-bed can hardly bear the sight; and those whom death approaches recoil from him all they can. Why, even the law that controls us puts death highest on the list of crimes, and highest on the list of punishments. By what device, then, can we bring ourselves to regard as nothing a departure from life even in the case of a stranger, not to mention that of relations, when so be they cease to live? We see before us the whole course of human life aiming at this one thing, viz. how we may continue in this life; indeed it is for this that houses have been invented by us to live in; in order that our bodies may not be prostrated in their environmenthyperlink by cold or heat. Agriculture, again, what is it but the providing of our sustenance? In fact all thought about how we are to go on living is occasioned by the fear of dying. Why is medicine so honoured amongst men? Because it is thought to carry on the combat with death to a certain extent by its methods. Why do we have corslets, and long shields, and greaves, and helmets, and all the defensive armour, and inclosures of fortifications, and ironbarred gates, except that we fear to die? Death then being naturally so terrible to us, how can it be easy for a survivor to obey this command to remain unmoved over friends departed?

Why, what is the especial pain you feel, asked the Teacher, in the mere necessity itself of dying? This common talk of unthinking persons is no sufficient accusation.

What! is there no occasion for grieving, I replied to her, when we see one who so lately lived and spoke becoming all of a sudden lifeless and motionless, with the sense of every bodily organ extinct, with no sight or hearing in operation, or any other faculty of apprehension that sense possesses; and if you apply fire or steel to him, even if you were to plunge a sword into the body, or cast it to the beasts of prey, or if you bury it beneath a mound, that dead man is alike unmoved at any treatment? Seeing, then, that this change is observed in all these ways, and that principle of life, whatever it might be, disappears all at once out of sight, as the flame of an extinguished lamp which burnt on it the moment before neither remains upon the wick nor passes to some other place, but completely disappears, how can such a change be borne without emotion by one who has no clear ground to rest upon? We hear the departure of the spirit, we see the shell that is left; but of the part that has been separated we are ignorant, both as to its nature, and as to the place whither it has fled; for neither earth, nor air, nor water, nor any other element can show as residing within itself this force that has left the body, at whose withdrawal a corpse only remains, ready for dissolution.

Whilst I was thus enlarging on the subject, the Teacher signed to me with her handhyperlink , and said: Surely what alarms and disturbs your mind is not the thought that the soul, instead of lasting for ever, ceases with the body's dissolution!

I answered rather audaciously, and without due consideration of what I said, for my passionate grief had not yet given me back my judgment. In fact, I said that the Divine utterances seemed to me like mere commands compelling us to believe that the soul lasts for ever; not, however, that we were led by them to this belief by any reasoning. Our mind within us appears slavishly to accept the opinion enforced, but not to acquiesce with a spontaneous impulse. Hence our sorrow over the departed is all the more grievous; we do not exactly know whether this vivifying principle is anything by itself; where it is, or how it is; whether, in fact, it exists in any way at all anywhere. This uncertaintyhyperlink about the real state of the case balances the opinions on either side; many adopt the one view, many the other; and indeed there are certain persons, of no small philosophical reputation amongst the Greeks, who have held and maintained this which I have just said.

Away, she cried, with that pagan nonsense! For therein the inventor of lies fabricates false theories only to harm the Truth. Observe this, and nothing else; that such a view about the soul amounts to nothing less than the abandoning of virtue, and seeking the pleasure of the moment only; the life of eternity, by which alone virtue claims the advantage, must be despaired of.

And pray how, I asked, are we to get a firm and unmovable belief in the soul's continuance? I, too, am sensible of the fact that human life will be bereft of the most beautiful ornament that life has to give, I mean virtue, unless an undoubting confidence with regard to this be established within us. What, indeed, has virtue to stand upon in the case of those persons who conceive of this present life as the limit of their existence, and hope for nothing beyond?

Well, replied the Teacher, we must seek where we may get a beginning for our discussion upon this point; and if you please, let the defence of the opposing views be undertaken by yourself; for I see that your mind is a little inclined to accept such a brief. Then, after the conflicting belief has been stated, we shall be able to look for the truth.

When she made this request, and I had deprecated the suspicion that I was making the objections in real earnest, instead of only wishing to get a firm ground for the belief about the soul by calling into courthyperlink first what is aimed against this view, I began-

Would not the defenders of the opposite belief say this: that the body, being composite, must necessarily be resolved into that of which it is composed? And when the coalition of elements in the body ceases, each of those elements naturally gravitates towards its kindred element with the irresistible bias of like to like; the heat in us will thus unite with heat, the earthy with the solid, and each of the other elements also will pass towards its like. Where, then, will the soul be after that? If one affirm that it is in those elements, one will be obliged to admit that it is identical with them, for this fusion could not possibly take place between two things of different natures. But this being granted, the soul must necessarily be viewed as a complex thing, fused as it is with qualities so opposite. But the complex is not simple, but must be classed with the composite, and the composite is necessarily dissoluble; and dissolution means the destruction of the compound; and the destructible is not immortal, else the flesh itself, resolvable as it is into its constituent elements, might so be called immortal. If, on the other hand, the soul is something other than these elements, where can our reason suggest a place for it to be, when it is thus, by virtue of its alien nature, not to be discovered in those elements, and there is no other place in the world, either, where it may continue, in harmony with its own peculiar character, to exist? But, if a thing can be found nowhere, plainly it has no existence.

The Teacher sighed gently at these words of mine, and then said; Maybe these were the objections, or such as these, that the Stoics and Epicureans collected at Athens made in answer to the Apostle. I hear that Epicurus carried his theories in this very direction. The framework of things was to his mind a fortuitoushyperlink and mechanical affair, without a Providence penetrating its operations; and, as a piece with this, he thought that human life was like a bubble, existing only as long as the breath within was held in by the enveloping substancehyperlink , inasmuch as our body was a mere membrane, as it were, encompassing a breath; and that on the collapse of the inflation the imprisoned essence was extinguished. To him the visible was the limit of existence; he made our senses the only means of our apprehension of things; he completely dosed the eyes of his soul, and was incapable of seeing anything in the intelligible and immaterial world, just as a man, who is imprisoned in a cabin whose walls and roof obstruct the view outside, remains without a glimpse of all the wonders of the sky. Verily, everything in the universe that is seen to be an object of sense is as an earthen wall, forming in itself a barrier between the narrower souls and that intelligible world which is ready for their contemplation; and it is the earth and water and fire alone that such behold; whence comes each of these elements, in what and by what they are encompassed, such souls because of their narrowness cannot detect. While the sight of a garment suggests to any one the weaver of it, and the thought of the shipwright comes at the sight of the ship, and the hand of the builder is brought to the mind of him who sees the building, these little souls gaze upon the world, but their eyes are blind to Him whom all this that we see around us makes manifest; and so they propound their clever and pungent doctrines about the soul's evanishment;-body from elements, and elements from body, and, besides, the impossibility of the soul's self-existence (if it is not to be one of these elements, or lodged in one); for if these opponents suppose that by virtue of the soul not being akin to the elements it is nowhere after death, they must propound, to begin with, the absence of the soul from the fleshly life as well, seeing that the body itself is nothing but a concourse of those elements; and so they must not tell us that the soul is to be found there either, independently vivifying their compound. If it is not possible for the soul to exist after death, though the elements do, then, I say, according to this teaching our life as well is proved to be nothing else but death. But if on the other hand they do not make the existence of the soul now in the body a question for doubt, how can they maintain its evanishment when the body is resolved into its elements? Then, secondly, they must employ an equal audacity against the God in this Nature too. For how can they assert that the intelligible and immaterial Unseen can be dissolved and diffused into the wet and the soft, as also into the hot and the dry, and so hold together the universe in existence through being, though not of a kindred nature with the things which it penetrates, yet not thereby incapable of so penetrating them? Let them, therefore, remove from their system the very Deity Who upholds the world.

That is the very point, I said, upon which our adversaries cannot fail to have doubts; viz. that all things depend on God and are encompassed by Him, or, that there is any divinity at all transcending the physical world.

It would be more fitting, she cried, to be silent about such doubts, and not to deign to make any answer to such foolish and wicked propositions; for there is a Divine precept forbidding us to answer a fool in his folly; and he must be a fool, as the Prophet declares, who says that there is no God. But since one needs must speak, I will urge upon you an argument which is not mine nor that of any human being (for it would then be of small value, whosoever spoke it), but an argument which the whole Creation enunciates by the medium of its wonders to the audiencehyperlink of the eye, with a skilful and artistic utterance that reaches the heart. The Creation proclaims outright the Creator; for the very heavens, as the Prophet says, declare the glory of God with their unutterable words. We see the universal harmony in the wondrous sky and on the wondrous earth; how elements essentially opposed to each other are all woven together in an ineffable union to serve one common end, each contributing its particular force to maintain the whole; how the unmingling and mutually repellent do not fly apart from each other by virtue of their peculiarities, any more than they are destroyed, when compounded, by such contrariety; how those elements which are naturally buoyant move downwards, the heat of the sun, for instance, descending in the rays, while the bodies which possess weight are lifted by becoming rarefied in vapour, so that water contrary to its nature ascends, being conveyed through the air to the upper regions; how too that fire of the firmament so penetrates the earth that even its abysses feel the heat; how the moisture of the rain infused into the soil generates, one though it be by nature, myriads of differing germs, and animates in due proportion each subject of its influence; how very swiftly the polar sphere revolves, how the orbits within it move the contrary way, with all the eclipses, and conjunctions, and measured intervalshyperlink of the planets. We see all this with the piercing eyes of mind, nor can we fail to be taught by means of such a spectacle that a Divine power, working with skill and method, is manifesting itself in this actual world, and, penetrating each portion, combines those portions with the whole and completes the whole by the portions, and encompasses the universe with a single all-controlling force, self-centred and self-contained, never ceasing from its motion, yet never altering the position which it holds.

And pray how, I asked, does this belief in the existence of God prove along with it the existence of the human soul? For God, surely, is not the same thing as the soul, so that, if the one were believed in, the other must necessarily be believed in.

She replied: It has been said by wise men that man is a little worldhyperlink in himself and contains all the elements which go to complete the universe. If this view is a true one (and so it seems), we perhaps shall need no other ally than it to establish the truth of our conception of the soul. And our conception of it is this; that it exists, with a rare and peculiar nature of its own, independently of the body with its gross texture. We get our exact knowledge of this outer world from the apprehension of our senses, and these sensational operations themselves lead us on to the understanding of the super-sensual world of fact and thought, and our eye thus becomes the interpreter of that almighty wisdom which is visible in the universe, and points in itself to the Being Who encompasses it. Just so, when we look to our inner world, we find no slight grounds there also, in the known, for conjecturing the unknown; and the unknown there also is that which, being the object of thought and not of sight, eludes the grasp of sense.

I rejoined, Nay, it may be very possible to infer a wisdom transcending the universe from the skilful and artistic designs observable in this harmonized fabric of physical nature; but, as regards the soul, what knowledge is possible to those who would trace, from any indications the body has to give, the unknown through the known?

Most certainly, the Virgin replied, the soul herself, to those who wish to follow the wise proverb and know themselves, is a competenthyperlink instructress; of the fact, I mean, that she is an immaterial and spiritual thing, working and moving in a way corresponding to her peculiar nature, and evincing these peculiar emotions through the organs of the body. For this bodily organization exists the same even in those who have just been reduced by death to the state of corpses, but it remains without motion or action because the force of the soul is no longer in it. It moves only when there is sensation in the organs, and not only that, but the mental force by means of that sensation penetrates with its own impulses and moves whither it will all those organs of sensation.

What then, I asked, is the soul? Perhaps there may be some possible means of delineating its nature; so that we may have some comprehension of this subject, in the way of a sketch.

Its definition, the Teacher replied, has been attempted in different ways by different writers, each according to his own bent; but the following is our opinion about it. The soul is an essence created, and living, and intellectual, transmitting from itself to an organized and sentient body the power of living and of grasping objects of sense, as long as a natural constitution capable of this holds together.

Saying this she pointed to the physicianhyperlink 434who was sitting to watch her state, and said: There is a proof of what I say close by us. How, I ask, does this man, by putting his fingers to feel the pulse, hear in a manner, through this sense of touch, Nature calling loudly to him and telling him of her peculiar pain; in fact, that the disease in the body is an inflammatory onehyperlink , and that the malady originates in this or that internal organ; and that there is such and such a degree of fever? How too is he taught by the agency of the eye other facts of this kind, when he looks to see the posture of the patient and watches the wasting of the flesh? As, too, the state of the complexion, pale somewhat and bilious, and the gaze of the eyes, as is the case with those in pain, involuntarily inclining to sadness, indicate the internal condition, so the ear gives information of the like, ascertaining the nature of the malady by the shortness of the breathing and by the groan that comes with it. One might say that even the sense of smell in the expert is not incapable of detecting the kind of disorder, but that it notices the secret suffering of the vitals in the particular quality of the breath. Could this be so if there were not a certain force of intelligence present in each organ of the senses? What would our hand have taught us of itself, without thought conducting it from feeling to understanding the subject before it? What would the ear, as separate from mind, or the eye or the nostril or any other organ have helped towards the settling of the question, all by themselves? Verily, it is most true what one of heathen culture is recorded to have said, that it is the mind that sees and the mind that hearshyperlink . Else, if you will not allow this to be true, you must tell me why, when you look at the sun, as you have been trained by your instructor to look at him, you assert that he is not in the breadth of his disc of the size he appears to the many, but that he exceeds by many times the measure of the entire earth. Do you not confidently maintain that it is so, because you have arrived by reasoning through phenomena at the conception of such and such a movement, of such distances of time and space, of such causes of eclipse? And when you look at the waning and waxing moon you are taught other truths by the visible figure of that heavenly body, viz. that it is in itself devoid of light, and that it revolves in the circle nearest to the earth, and that it is lit by light from the sun; just as is the case with mirrors, which, receiving the sun upon them, do not reflect rays of their own, but those of the sun, whose light is given back from their smooth flashing surface. Those who see this, but do not examine it, think that the light comes from the moon herself. But that this is not the case is proved by this; that when she is diametrically facing the sun she has the whole of the disc that looks our way illuminated; but, as she traverses her own circle of revolution quicker from moving in a narrower space, she herself has completed this more than twelve times before the sun has once travelled round his; whence it happens that her substance is not always covered with light. For her position facing him is not maintained in the frequency of her revolutions; but, while this position causes the whole side of the moon which looks to us to be illumined, directly she moves sideways her hemisphere which is turned to us necessarily becomes partially shadowed, and only that which is turned to him meets his embracing rays; the brightness, in fact, keeps on retiring from that which can no longer see the sun to that which still sees him, until she passes right across the sun's disc and receives his rays upon her hinder part; and then the fact of her being in herself totally devoid of light and splendour causes the side turned to us to be invisible while the further hemisphere is all in light; and this is called the completionhyperlink of her waning. But when again, in her own revolution, she has passed the sun and she is transverse to his rays, the side which was dark just before begins to shine a little, for the rays move from the illumined part to that so lately invisible. You see what the eye does teach; and yet it would never of itself have afforded this insight, without something that looks through the eyes and uses the data of the senses as mere guides to penetrate from the apparent to the unseen. It is needless to add the methods of geometry that lead us step by step through visible delineations to truths that lie out of sight, and countless other instances which all prove that apprehension is the work of an intellectual essence deeply seated in our nature, acting through the operation of our bodily senses.

But what, I asked, if, insisting on the great differences which, in spite of a certain quality of matter shared alike by all elements in their visible form, exist between each particular kind of matter (motion, for instance, is not the same in all, some moving up, some down; nor form, nor quality either), some one were to say that there was in the same manner incorporated in, and belonging to, these elements a certain forcehyperlink as well which effects these intellectual insights and operations by a purely natural effort of their own (such effects, for instance, as we often see produced by the mechanists, in whose hands matter, combined according to the rules of Art, thereby imitates Nature, exhibiting resemblance not in figure alone but even in motion, so that when the piece of mechanism sounds in its resonant part it mimics a human voice, without, however, our being able to perceive anywhere any mental force working out the particular figure, character, sound, and movement); suppose, I say, we were to affirm that all this was produced as well in the organic machine of our natural bodies, without any intermixture of a special thinking substance, but owing simply to an inherent motive power of the elements within us accomplishinghyperlink by itself these operations-to nothing else, in fact, but an impulsive movement working for the cognition of the object before us; would not then the fact stand proved of the absolute nonexistencehyperlink of that intellectual and impalpable Being, the soul, which you talk of?

Your instance, she replied, and your reasoning upon it, though belonging to the counter-argument, may both of them be made allies of our statement, and will contribute not a little to the confirmation of its truth.

Why, how can you say that?

Because, you see, so to understand, manipulate, and dispose the soulless matter, that the art which is stored away in such mechanisms becomes almost like a soul to this material, in all the various ways in which it mocks movement, and figure, and voice, and so on, may be turned into a proof of there being something in man whereby he shows an innate fitness to think out within himself, through the contemplative and inventive faculties, such thoughts, and having prepared such mechanisms in theory, to put them into practice by manual skill, and exhibit in matter the product of his mind. First, for instance, he saw, by dint of thinking, that to produce any sound there is need of some wind; and then, with a view to produce wind in the mechanism, he previously ascertained by a course of reasoning and close observation of the nature of elements, that there is no vacuum at all in the world, but that the lighter is to be considered a vacuum only by comparison with the heavier; seeing that the air itself, taken as a separate subsistence, is crowded quite full. It is by an abuse of language that a jar is said to be "empty"; for when it is empty of any liquid it is none the less, even in this state, full, in the eyes of the experienced. A proof of this is that a jar when put into a pool of water is not immediately filled, but at first floats on the surface, because the air it contains helps to buoy up its rounded sides; till at last the hand of the drawer of the water forces it down to the bottom, and, when there, it takes in water by its neck; during which process it is shown not to have been empty even before the water came; for there is the spectacle of a sort of combat going on in the neck between the two elements, the water being forced by its weight into the interior, and therefore streaming in; the imprisoned air on the other hand being straitened for room by the gush of the water along the neck, and so rushing in the contrary direction; thus the water is checked by the strong current of air, and gurgles and bubbles against it. Men observed this, and devised in accordance with this property of the two elements a way of introducing air to work their mechanismhyperlink . They made a kind of cavity of some hard stuff, and prevented the air in it from escaping in any direction; and then introduced water into this cavity through its mouth, apportioning the quantity of water according to requirement; next they allowed an exit in the opposite direction to the air, so that it passed into a pipe placed ready to hand, and in so doing, being violently constrained by the water, became a blast; and this, playing on the structure of the pipe, produced a note. Is it not clearly proved by such visible results that there is a mind of some kind in man, something other than that which is visible, which, by virtue of an invisible thinking nature of its own, first prepares by inward invention such devices, and then, when they have been so matured, brings them to the light and exhibits them in the subservient matter? For if it were possible to ascribe such wonders, as the theory of our opponents does, to the actual constitution of the elements, we should have these mechanisms building themselves spontaneously; the bronze would not wait for the artist, to be made into the likeness of a man, but would become such by an innate force; the air would not require the pipe, to make a note, but would sound spontaneously by its own fortuitous flux and motion; and the jet of the water upwards would not be, as it now is, the result of an artificial pressure forcing it to move in an unnatural direction, but the water would rise into the mechanism of its own accord, finding in that direction a natural channel. But if none of these results are produced spontaneously by elemental force, but, on the contrary, each element is employed at will by artifice; and if artifice is a kind of movement and activity of mind, will not the very consequences of what has been urged by way of objection show us Mind as something other than the thing perceived?

That the thing perceived, I replied, is not the same as the thing not perceived, I grant; but I do not discover any answer to our question in such a statement; it is not yet clear to me what we are to think that thing not-perceived to be; all I have been shown by your argument is that it is not anything material; and I do not yet know the fitting name for it. I wanted especially to know what it is, not what it is not.

We do learn, she replied, much about many things by this very same method, inasmuch as, in the very act of saying a thing is "not so and so," we by implication interpret the very nature of the thing in questionhyperlink . For instance, when we say a "guileless," we indicate a good man; when we say "unmanly," we have expressed that a man is a coward; and it is possible to suggest a great many things in like fashion, wherein we either convey the idea of goodness by the negation of badnesshyperlink , or vice versâ. Well, then, if one thinks so with regard to the matter now before us, one will not fail to gain a proper conception of it. The question is,-What are we to think of Mind in its very essence? Now granted that the inquirer has had his doubts set at rest as to the existence of the thing in question, owing to the activities which it displays to us, and only wants to know what it is, he will have adequately discovered it by being told that it is not that which our senses perceive, neither a colour, nor a form, nor a hardness, nor a weight, nor a quantity, nor a cubic dimension, nor a point, nor anything else perceptible in matter; supposing, that is,hyperlink that there does exist a something beyond all these.

Here I interrupted her discourse: If you leave all these out of the account I do not see how you can possibly avoid cancelling along with them the very thing which you are in search of. I cannot at present conceive to what, as apart from these, the perceptive activity is to cling. For on all occasions in investigating with the scrutinizing intellect the contents of the world, we must, so far as we put our handhyperlink at all on what we are seeking, inevitably touch, as blind men feeling along the walls for the door, some one of those things aforesaid; we must come on colour, or form, or quantity, or something else on your list; and when it comes to saying that the thing is none of them, our feebleness of mind induces us to suppose that it does not exist at all.

Shame on such absurdity! said she, indignantly interrupting. A fine conclusion this narrow-minded, grovelling view of the world brings us to! If all that is not cognizable by sense is to be wiped out of existence, the all-embracing Power that presides over things is admitted by this same assertion not to be; once a man has been told about the non-material and invisible nature of the Deity, he must perforce with such a premise reckon it as absolutely non-existent. If, on the other hand, the absence of such characteristics in His case does not constitute any limitation of His existence, how can the Mind of man be squeezed out of existence along with this withdrawal one by one of each property of matter?

Well, then, I retorted, we only exchange one paradox for another by arguing in this way; for our reason will be reduced to the conclusion that the Deity and the Mind of man are identical, if it be true that neither can be thought of, except by the withdrawal of all the data of sense.

Say not so, she replied; to talk so also is blasphemous. Rather, as the Scripture tells you, say that the one is like the other. For that which is "made in the image" of the Deity necessarily possesses a likeness to its prototype in every respect; it resembles it in being intellectual, immaterial, unconnected with any notion of weighthyperlink , and in eluding any measurement of its dimensionshyperlink ; yet as regards its own peculiar nature it is something different from that other. Indeed, it would be no longer an "image," if it were altogether identical with that other; buthyperlink where we have A in that uncreate prototype we have a in the image; just as in a minute particle of glass, when it happens to face the light, the complete disc of the sun is often to be seen, not represented thereon in proportion to its proper size, but so far as the minuteness of the particle admits of its being represented at all. Thus do the reflections of those ineffable qualities of Deity shine forth within the narrow limits of our nature; and so our reason, following the leading of these reflections, will not miss grasping the Mind in its essence by clearing away from the question all corporeal qualities; nor on the other hand will it bring the purehyperlink and infinite Existence to the level of that which is perishable and little; it will regard this essence of the Mind as an object of thought only, since it is the "image" of an Existence which is such; but it will not pronounce this image to be identical with the prototype. Just, then, as we have no doubts, owing to the display of a Divine mysterious wisdom in the universe, about a Divine Being and a Divine Power existing in it all which secures its continuance (though if you required a definition of that Being you would therein find the Deity completely sundered from every object in creation, whether of sense or thought, while in these last, too, natural distinctions are admitted), so, too, there is nothing strange in the soul's separate existence as a substance (whatever we may think that substance to be) being no hindrance to her actual existence, in spite of the elemental atoms of the world not harmonizing with her in the definiton of her being. In the case of our living bodies, composed as they are from the blending of these atoms, there is no sort of communion, as has been just said, on the score of substance, between the simplicity and invisibility of the soul, and the grossness of those bodies; but, notwithstanding that, there is not a doubt that there is in them the soul's vivifying influence exerted by a law which it as beyond the human understanding to comprehendhyperlink . Not even then, when those atoms have again been dissolvedhyperlink into themselves, has that bond of a vivifying influence vanished; but as, while the framework of the body still holds together, each individual part is possessed of a soul which penetrates equally every component member, and one could not call that soul hard and resistent though blended with the solid, nor humid, or cold, or the reverse, though it transmits life to all and each of such parts, so, when that framework is dissolved, and has returned to its kindred elements, there is nothing against probability that that simple and incomposite essence which has once for all by some inexplicable law grown with the growth of the bodily framework should continually remain beside the atoms with which it has been blended, and should in no way be sundered from a union once formed. For it does not follow that because the composite is dissolved the incomposite must be dissolved with ithyperlink .

That those atoms, I rejoined, should unite and again be separated, and that this constitutes the formation and dissolution of the body, no one would deny. But we have to consider this. There are great intervals between these atoms; they differ from each other, both in position, and also in qualitative distinctions and peculiarities. When, indeed, these atoms have all converged upon the given subject, it is reasonable that that intelligent and undimensional essence which we call the soul should cohere with that which is so united; but once these atoms are separated from each other, and have gone whither their nature impels them, what is to become of the soul when her vesselhyperlink is thus scattered in many directions? As a sailor, when his ship has been wrecked and gone to pieces, cannot float upon all the pieces at oncehyperlink which have been scattered this way and that over the surface of the sea (for he seizes any bit that comes to hand, and lets all the rest drift away), in the same way the soul, being by nature incapable of dissolution along with the atoms, will, if she finds it hard to be parted from the body altogether, cling to some one of them; and if we take this view, consistency will no more allow us to regard her as immortal for living in one atom than as mortal for not living in a number of them.

But the intelligent and undimensional, she replied, is neither contracted nor diffusedhyperlink (contraction and diffusion being a property of body only); but by virtue of a nature which is formless and bodiless it is present with the body equally in the contraction and in the diffusion of its atoms, and is no more narrowed by the compression which attends the uniting of the atoms than it is abandoned by them when they wander off to their kindred, however wide the interval is held to be which we observe between alien atoms. For instance, there is a great difference between the buoyant and light as contrasted with the heavy and solid; between the hot as contrasted with the cold; between the humid as contrasted with its opposite; nevertheless it is no strain to an intelligent essence to be present in each of those elements to which it has once cohered; this blending with opposites does not split it up. In locality, in peculiar qualities, these elemental atoms are held to be far removed from each other; but an undimensional nature finds it no labour to cling to what is locally divided, seeing that even now it is possible for the mind at once to contemplate the heavens above us and to extend its busy scrutiny beyond the horizon, nor is its contemplative power at all distracted by these excursions into distances so great. There is nothing, then, to hinder the soul's presence in the body's atoms, whether fused in union or decomposed in dissolution. Just as in the amalgam of gold and silver a certain methodical force is to be observed which has fused the metals, and if the one be afterwards smelted out of the other, the law of this method nevertheless continues to reside in each, so that while, the amalgam is separated this method does not suffer division along with it (for you cannot make fractions out of the indivisible), in the same way this intelligent essence of the soul is observable in the concourse of the atoms, and does not undergo division when they are dissolved; but it remains with them, and even in their separation it is co-extensive with them, yet not itself dissevered nor discountedhyperlink into sections to accord with the number of the atoms. Such a condition belongs to the material and spacial world, but that which is intelligent and undimensional is not liable to the circumstances of space. Therefore the soul exists in the actual atoms which she has once animated, and there is no force to tear her away from her cohesion with them. What cause for melancholy, then, is there herein, that the visible is exchanged for the invisible; and wherefore is it that your mind has conceived such a hatred of death?


1 Gregory himself tells us, in his life of S. Macrina, that he went to see her after the Council of Antioch. (This and Basil's death occurred in the year 379: so that this Dialogue was probably composed in 380.) "The interval during which the circumstances of our times of trials prevented any visits had been long." He goes on to say (p. 189 B.); "And that she might cause me no depression of spirits, she somehow subdued the noise and concealed the difficulty of her breathing, and assumed perfect cheerfulness: she not only started pleasant topics herself, but suggested them as well by the questions which she asked. The conversation led naturally to the mention of our great Basil. While my very soul sank and my countenance was saddened and fell, she herself was so far from going with me into the depths of mourning, that she made the mention of that saintly name all opportunity for the most sublime philosophy. Examining human nature in a scientific way, disclosing the divine plan that underlies all afflictions, and dealing, as if inspired by the Holy Spirit, with all the questions relating to a future life, she maintained such a discourse that my soul seemed to be lifted along with her words almost beyond the compass of humanity, and, as I followed her argument, to be placed within the sanctuary of heaven." Again (p. 190 B): "And if my tract would not thereby be extended to an endless length, I would have reported everything in its order; i.e. how her argument lifted her as she went into the philosophy both of the soul, and of the causes of our life in the flesh, and of the final cause of Man and his mortality, and of death and the return thence into life again. In all of it her reasoning continued clear and consecutive: it flowed on so easily and naturally that it was like the water from some spring falling unimpeded downwards."

2 Two grounds are here given why this practice of grief for the departed is difficult to give up. One lies in the natural abhorrence of death, showing itself in two ways, viz. in our grief over others dying, and in recoiling from our own death, expressed by two evenly balanced sentences, oute twn orwntwn <\=85_oij te an <\=85_; in the latter a second oute might have been expected; but such an anacoluthon is frequent in dialogue. Oehler is wrong in giving to the second te an intensive force, i.e. "much more." The other ground lies in the attitude of the law towards death.

3 Reading periexonti: the same word is used below, "as long as the breath within was held in by the enveloping substance"(see p. 432, note 8). Here it means "the air": as in Marcus Antoninus, Lib. iv. 39.

4 Reading kataseisasa th xeiri, instead of the vox nihili metaseisasa of the two Paris Editions, which can be accounted for by meta being repeated in error from metacu. The question which this gesture accompanied is one to which it would be very appropriate. The reading adopted is that of the Codex Uffenbach, and this phrase, kataseiein th xeiri, is unimpeachable for "commanding silence," being used by Polybius, and Xenophon (without xeiri). Wolf and Krabinger prefer this reading to that of most of the Codd., katasighsasa: and doubtless Sifanus read it ("manu silentio imperato").

5 isaj <\=85_adhlia. This is Krabinger's reading (for iswj <\=85_h deilia in the Parisian Editions) with abundant ms. authority.

6 antipiptontwn proj ton skopon upoklhqentwn: he reading of the Parisian Editions. But the preponderance of ms. authority is in favour of upekluqentwn, "si quae ad hoc propositum opponuntur soluta fuerint," Krabinger. The force of upo will then be "by way of rejoinder." The idea in skopon seems to be that of a butt set up to be shot at. All the mss. but not the Paris Editions, have the article before antipipontwn: but it is not absolutely necessary, for Gregory not unfrequently omits it before participles, when his meaning is general, i.e. "Everything that," &c.

7 wj tuxaia, k.t.l. It is better to connect this directly with Epicurus himself, than to refer it, by bracketing the preceding sentence (with Oehler), to his followers. Macrina infers from the opinions known to her of Epicurus, what he must have said about the human soul: i.e. that it was a bubble; and then what his followers probably said. There is no evidence that Epicurus usedthis actual figure: still Gregory may be recording his very words.- Lucian (Charon, 68) enlarges on such a simile: and his wkumoron fnshma, as a description of man, is reproduced by Gregory himself in Orat. de Beatitud. p. 768 D.

8 tw periexonti. Sifanus takes this of the surrounding atmo-sphere. So also Krabinger, "aere circumfuso," just as above (182 A.) it does certainly mean the air, and Wolf quotes a passage to that effect from Marcus Antoninus and the present instance also. Still there is no reason that it should not here mean the body of the man, which is as it were a case retentive of the vital breath within; and the sense seems to require it. As to the construction. although pomofluc is sometimes masculine in later Greek, yet it is much more likely that peritaqentoj (not periteqentoj of the Paris Editt.) is the genitive absolute with tou swmatoj: tw periexonti would then very naturally refer to this.

9 But Dr. Hermann Schmidt sees even more than this in this bold figure. The Creation preaches, as it were, and its tones are first heard in our hearts (enhxountoj th kardia): and these tones are then reflected back from the heart to the contemplating eye, which thus becomes not a seeing only, but a hearing (akroathj ginetai) organ, in its external activity.

10 Enarmoniouj apostaseij, i.e. to which the music of the pheres was due: see Macrobius, Somnium Scipionis, c. 4: for the "retrograde" motion of the planets above, see Joannes de Sacro Bosco, Sphaera (1564), p. 47, sqq.

11 See On the Making of Man, c. viii. 5.

12 ikanh. This is the reading of Codd. A and B (of Krabinger, but the common reading is ei kan h '

13 It may be noticed that besides the physician several others were present. Cf. 242 D, toij pollo<\=xd_j polloij parakaqhmenoij.

14 Krabinger's Latin "in intentione," though a literal translation, hardly represents the full force of this passage, which is interesting because, the terms being used specially, if not only, of fevers or inflammation, it is evident that the speaker has her own illness in mind, and her words are thus more natural than if she spoke of patients generally. If en epitasei is translated "at its height," this will very awkwardly anticipate what follows, epi tosonde <\=85_h epitasij. The doctor is supposed simply to class the complaint as belonging to the order of those which manifest themselves di= epitasewj, as opposed to those which do so di anesewj: he then descends to particulars, i.e. epi tosonde. The demonstrative in twnde twn splagxnwn has the same force as in to en twde qermon, 214 C, "such and such;" the nobler organs (viscera thoracis) of course are here meant. Gregory himself gives a list of them, 250 C.

15 A trochaic line to this effect from the comedian Epicharmus is quoted by Theodoret, De Fide, p. 15.

16 oper dh pantelhj tou stoixeiou meiwsij legetai, "perfecta elementi diminutio;" oper referring to the dark "new" moon just described, which certainly is the consummation of the waning of the moon: though it is not itself a meiwsij.-This last consideration, and the use of dh, and the introduction of tou stoixeiou, favour another meaning which might be given, i.e. by joining pantelhj with tou stoixiou, and making oper refer to the whole passage of the moon from full to new, "which indeed is commonly (but erroneously) spoken of as a substantial diminution of the elementary body itself," as if it were a true and real decrease of bulk.

17 ei tina toutwn kata ton sunousiwmenhn tij ei/ai legoi dunamin, k.t.l. The difficulty here is in toutwn, which Krabinger takes as a partitive genitive after einai, and refers to the "elements ", and this is perhaps the best way of taking it. But still, as Schmidt points out, it is rather the human body than the elements themselves that ought here to be spoken of as the efficient cause of thought: and so he would either refer tontwn to ton auton ("in the same way as these instances just given"), and compares Eurip Helen., onomadetautonthsemhsexousatisdamartosallh (Matt. Gr. p. 706); or else would join to<\=f8_twn with the preceding diaforoj (with Codd. Mon. D, E).

18 Cod. Mon. D, apoteloushj. This seems a better reading than that preferred by Krabinger, apotelesma einai: for apotelesma must be pressed to mean, in order to preserve the sense, "mere result," i.e. something secondary, and not itself a principle or cause: the following h besides, cannot without awkwardness be referred to energeian.

19 Reading ousian ouk an apodeiknuoito h to mhd= olwj einai;

20 According to an author quoted by Athenaeus (iv. 75), the first organist (udraulhj), or rather organ-builder, was Ctesibius of Alexandria, about b.c. 200.

21 Remove comma after zhtoumenou. in Paris Editt.

22 or vice versa, i.e. the idea of badness by the negation of goodness. Krabinger appositely quotes a passage from Plotinus: "Who could picture to himself evil as a specific thing, appearing as it does only in the absence of each good? will be necessary for all who are to know what evil is to have a clear conception about good: since even in dealing with real species the better take precedence of the worse; and evil is not even a species, but rather a negation." Cf. Origen, In Johan. p. 66 A, pasa h kakia ouden estin, epei kai ouk on tugxanei. See also Gregorys Great Cathechism, cap. v. and vii.

23 supposing, that is. This only repeats what was said above: "granted that the inquirer has had his doubts set at rest as to the existence of the thing." It is the reading of Krabinger (ei dh ti), and the best. Sifanus follows the loss supported reading oiden oti, which is open to the further objection that it would be absurd to say, "when a man learns that A is not B he knows that it is something else." The reading of the Paris. Editt. idh is unintelligible.

24 (kaq=) oson te ...qigganomen.

25 weight (