Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.59 The Great Catechism Part 3

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Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.59 The Great Catechism Part 3

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 25.01.59 The Great Catechism Part 3

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Chapter XVIII.

And yet it is perhaps straining too far for those who do believe that God sojourned here in life to object to the manner of His appearancehyperlink , as wanting wisdom or conspicuous reasonableness. For to those who are not vehemently antagonistic to the truth there exists no slight proof of the Deity having sojourned here; I mean that which is exhibited now in this present life before the life to come begins, the testimony which is borne by actual facts. For who is there that does not know that every part of the world was overspread with demoniacal delusion which mastered the life of man through the madness of idolatry; how this was the customary rule among all nations, to worship demons under the form of idols, with the sacrifice of living animals and the polluted offerings on their altars? But from the time when, as says the Apostle, "the grace of God that bringeth salvation to all men appearedhyperlink ," and dwelt among us in His human nature, all these things passed away like smoke into nothingness, the madness of their oracles and prophesyings ceased, the annual pomps and pollutions of their bloody hecatombs came to an end, while among most nations altars entirely disappeared, together with porches, precincts, and shrines, and all the ritual besides which was followed out by the attendant priest of those demons, to the deception both of themselves and of all who came in their way. So that in many of these places no memorial exists of these things having ever been. But, instead, throughout the whole world there have arisen in the name of Jesus temples and altars and a holy and unbloody Priesthoodhyperlink , and a sublime philosophy, which teaches, by deed and example more than by word, a disregard of this bodily life and a contempt of death, a contempt which they whom tyrants have tried to force to apostatize from the faith have manifestly displayed, making no account of the cruelties done to their bodies or of their doom of death: and yet, plainly, it was not likely that they would have submitted to such treatment unless they had had a clear and indisputable proof of that Divine Sojourn among men. And the following fact is, further, a sufficient mark, as against the Jews, of the presence among themhyperlink of Him in Whom they disbelieve; up to the time of the manifestation of Christ the royal palaces in Jerusalem were in all their splendour: there was their far-famed Temple; there was the customary round of their sacrifices throughout the year: all the things, which had been expressed by the Law in symbols to those who knew how to read its secrets, were up to that point of time unbroken in their observance, in accordance with that form of worship which had been established from the beginning. But when at length they saw Him Whom they were looking for, and of Whom by their Prophets and the Law they had before been told, and when they held in more estimation than faith in Him Who had so manifested Himself that which for the future became but a degraded superstition, because they took it in a wrong sensehyperlink , and clung to the mere phrases of the Law in obedience to the dictates of custom rather than of intelligence, and when they had thus refused the grace which had appeared,-then evenhyperlink those holy monuments of their religion were left standing, as they do, in history alone; for no traces even of their Temple can be recognized, and their splendid city has been left in ruins, so that there remains to the Jews nothing of the ancient institutions; while by the command of those who rule over them the very ground of Jerusalem which they so venerated is forbidden to them.

Chapter XIX.

Nevertheless, since neither those who take the Greek view, nor yet the leaders of Jewish opinions, are willing to make such things the proofs of that Divine manifestation, it may be as well, as regards these demurrers to our statement, to treat more particularly the reason by virtue of which the Divine nature is combined with ours, saving, as it does, humanity by means of itself, and not working out its proposed design by means of a mere command. With what, then, must we begin, so as to conduct our thinking by a logical sequence to the proposed conclusion? What but this, viz. with a succinct detail of the notions that can religiously be entertained of Godhyperlink ?

Chapter XX.

It is, then, universally acknowledged that we must believe the Deity to be not only almighty, but just, and good, and wise, and everything else that suggests excellence. It follows, therefore, in the present dispensation of things, that it is not the case that some particular onehyperlink of these Divine attributes freely displays itself in creation, while there is another that is not present there; for, speaking once for all, no one of those exalted terms, when disjoined from the rest, is by itself alone a virtue, nor is the good really good unless allied with what is just, and wise, and mighty (for what is unjust, or unwise, or powerless, is not good, neither is power, when disjoined from the principle of justice and of wisdom, to be considered in the light of virtue; such species of power is brutal and tyrannous; and so, as to the rest, if what is wise be carried beyond the limits of what is just, or if what is just be not contemplated along with might and goodness, cases of that sort one would more properly call vice; for how can what comes short of perfection be reckoned among things that are good?). If, then, it is fitting that all excellences should be combined in the views we have of God, let us see whether this Dispensation as regards man fails in any of those conceptions which we should entertain of Him. The object of our inquiry in the case of God is before all things the indications of His goodness. And what testimony to His goodness could there be more palpable than this, viz. His regaining to Himself the allegiance of one who had revolted to the opposite side, instead of allowing the fixed goodness of His nature to be affected by the variableness of the human will? For, as David says, He had not come to save us had not "goodness" created in Him such a purposehyperlink ; and yet His goodness had not advanced His purpose had not wisdom given efficacy to His love for man. For, as in the case of persons who are in a sickly condition, there are probably many who wish that a man were not in such evil plight, but it is only they in whom there is some technical ability operating in behalf of the sick, who bring their good-will on their behalf to a practical issue, so it is absolutely needful that wisdom should be conjoined with goodness. In what way, then, is wisdom contemplated in combination with goodness; in the actual events, that is, which have taken place? because one cannot observe a good purpose in the abstract; a purpose cannot possibly be revealed unless it has the light of some events upon it. Well, the things accomplished, progressing as they did in orderly series and sequence, reveal the wisdom and the skill of the Divine economy. And since, as has been before remarked, wisdom, when combined with justice, then absolutely becomes a virtue, but, if it be disjoined from it, cannot in itself alone be good, it were well moreover in this discussion of the Dispensation in regard to man, to consider attentively in the light of each other these two qualities; I mean, its wisdom and its justice.

Chapter XXI.

What, then, is justice? We distinctly remember what in the course of our argument we said in the commencement of this treatise; namely, that man was fashioned in imitation of the Divine nature, preserving his resemblance to the Deity as well in other excellences as in possession of freedom of the will, yet being of necessity of a nature subject to change. For it was not possible that a being who derived his origin from an alteration should be altogether free from this liability. For the passing from a state of non-existence into that of existence is a kind of alteration; when being, that is, by the exercise of Divine power takes the place of nonentity. In the following special respect, too, alteration is necessarily observable in man, namely, because man was an imitation of the Divine nature, and unless some distinctive difference had been occasioned, the imitating subject would be entirely the same as that which it resembles; but in this instance, it is to be observed, there is a difference between that which "was made in the image" and its pattern; namely this, that the one is not subject to change, while the other is (for, as has been described, it has come into existence through an alteration), and being thus subject to alteration does not always continue in its existing state. For alteration is a kind of movement ever advancing from the present state to another; and there are two forms of this movement; the one being ever towards what is good, and in this the advance has no check, because no goal of the course to be traversedhyperlink can be reached, while the other is in the direction of the contrary, and of it this is the essence, that it has no subsistence; for, as has been before stated, the contrary state to goodness conveys some such notion of opposition, as when we say, for instance, that that which is is logically opposed to that which is not, and that existence is so opposed to non-existence. Since, then, by reason of this impulse and movement of changeful alteration it is not possible that the nature of the subject of this change should remain self-centred and unmoved, but there is always something towards which the will is tending, the appetency for moral beauty naturally drawing it on to movement, this beauty is in one instance really such in its nature, in another it is not so, only blossoming with an illusive appearance of beauty; and the criterion of these two kinds is the mind that dwells within us. Under these circumstances it is a matter of risk whether we happen to choose the real beauty, or whetherwe are diverted from its choice by some deception arising from appearance, and thus drift away to the opposite; as happened, we are told in the heathen fable, to the dog which looked askance at the reflection in the water of what it carried in its mouth, but let go the real food, and, opening its mouth wide to swallow the image of it, still hungered. Since, then, the mind has been disappointed in its craving for the real good, and diverted to that which is not such, being persuaded, through the deception of the great advocate and inventor of vice, that that was beauty which was just the opposite (for this deception would never have succeeded, had not the glamour of beauty been spread over the hook of vice like a bait),-the man, I say, on the one hand, who had enslaved himself by indulgence to the enemy of his life, being of his own accord in this unfortunate condition,-I ask you to investigate, on the other hand, those qualities which suit and go along with our conception of the Deity, such as goodness, wisdom, power, immortality, and all else that has the stamp of superiority. As good, then, the Deity entertains pity for fallen man; as wise He is not ignorant of the means for his recovery; while a just decision must also form part of that wisdom; for no one would ascribe that genuine justice to the absence of wisdom.

Chapter XXII.

What, then, under these circumstances is justice? It is the not exercising any arbitrary sway over him who has us in his powerhyperlink , nor, by tearing us away by a violent exercise of force from his hold, thus leaving some colour for a just complaint to him who enslaved man through sensual pleasure. For as they who have bartered away their freedom for money are the slaves of those who have purchased them (for they have constituted themselves their own sellers, and it is not allowable either for themselves or any one else in their behalf to call freedom to their aid, not even though those who have thus reduced themselves to this sad state are of noble birth; and, if any one out of regard for the person who has so sold himself should use violence against him who has bought him, he will clearly be acting unjustly in thus arbitrarily rescuing one who has been legally purchased as a slave, whereas, if he wishes to pay a price to get such a one away, there is no law to prevent that), on the same principle, now that we had voluntarily bartered away our freedom, it was requisite that no arbitrary method of recovery, but the one consonant with justicehyperlink should be devised by Him Who in His goodness had undertaken our rescue. Now this method is in a measure this; to make over to the master of the slave whatever ransom he may agree to accept for the person in his possession.

Chapter XXIII.

What, then, was it likely that the master of the slave would choose to receive in his stead? It is possible in the way of inference to make a guess as to his wishes in the matter, if, that is, the manifest indications of what we are seeking for should come into our hands. He then, who, as we before stated in the beginning of this treatise, shut his eyes to the good in his envy of man in his happy condition, he who generated in himself the murky cloud of wickedness, he who suffered from the disease of the love of rule, that primary and fundamental cause of propension to the bad and the mother, so to speak, of all the wickedness that follows,-what would he accept in exchange for the thing which he held, but something, to be sure, higher and better, in the way of ransom, that thus, by receiving a gain in the exchange, he might foster the more his own special passion of pride? Now unquestionably in not one of those who had lived in history from the beginning of the world had he been conscious of any such circumstance as he observed to surround Him Who then manifested Himself, i. e. conception without carnal connection, birth without impurity, motherhood with virginity, voices of the unseen testifying from above to a transcendent worth, the healing of natural disease, without the use of means and of an extraordinary character, proceeding from Him by the mere utterance of a word and exercise of His will, the restoration of the dead to life, the absolution of the damnedhyperlink , the fear with which He inspired devils, His power over tempests, His walking through the sea, not by the waters separating on either side, and, as in the case of Moses' miraculous power, making bare its depths for those who passed through, but by the surface of the water presenting solid ground for His feet, and by a firm and hard resistance supporting His steps; then, His disregard for food as long as it pleased Him to abstain, His abundant banquets in the wilderness wherewith many thousands were fully fed (though neither did the heavens pour down manna on them, nor was their need supplied by the earth producing corn for them in its natural way, but that instance of munificencehyperlink came out of the ineffable store-houses of His Divine power), the bread ready in the hands of those who distributed it, as if they were actually reaping it, and becoming more, the more the eaters were filled; and then, the banquet on the fish; not that the sea supplied their need, but He Who had stocked the sea with its fish. But how is it possible to narrate in succession each one of the Gospel miracles? The Enemy, therefore, beholding in Him such power, saw also in Him an opportunity for an advance, in the exchange, upon the value of what he held. For this reason he chooses Him as a ransomhyperlink for those who were shut up in the prison of death. But it was out of his power to look on the unclouded aspect of God; he must see in Him some portion of that fleshly nature which through sin he had so long held in bondage. Therefore it was that the Deity was invested with the flesh, in order, that is, to secure that he, by looking upon something congenial and kindred to himself, might have no fears in approaching that supereminent power; and might yet by perceiving that power, showing as it did, yet only gradually, more and more splendour in the miracles, deem what was seen an object of desire rather than of fear. Thus, you see how goodness was conjoined with justice, and how wisdom was not divorced from them. For to have devised that the Divine power should have been containable in the envelopment of a body, to the end that the Dispensation in our behalf might not be thwarted through any fear inspired by the Deity actually appearing, affords a demonstration of all these qualities at once-goodness, wisdom, justice. His choosing to save man is a testimony of his goodness; His making the redemption of the captive a matter of exchange exhibits His justice, while the invention whereby He enabled the Enemy to apprehend that of which he was before incapable, is a manifestation of supreme wisdom.

Chapter XXIV.

But possibly one who has given his attention to the course of the preceding remarks may inquire: "wherein is the power of the Deity, wherein is the imperishableness of that Divine power, to be traced in the processes you have described?" In order, therefore, to make this also clear, let us take a survey of the sequel of the Gospel mystery, where that Power conjoined with Love is more especially exhibited. In the first place, then, that the omnipotence of the Divine nature should have had strength to descend to the humiliation of humanity, furnishes a clearer proof of that omnipotence than even the greatness and supernatural character of the miracles. For that something pre-eminently great should be wrought out by Divine power is, in a manner, in accordance with, and consequent upon the Divine nature; nor is it startling to hear it said that the whole of the created world, and all that is understood to be beyond the range of visible things, subsists by the power of God, His will giving it existence according to His good pleasure. But this His descent to the humility of man is a kind of superabundant exercise of power, which thus finds no check even in directions which contravene nature. It is the peculiar property of the essence of fire to tend upwards; no one therefore, deems it wonderful in the case of flame to see that natural operation. But should the flame be seen to stream downwards, like heavy bodies, such a fact would be regarded as a miracle; namely, how fire still remains fire, and yet, by this change of direction in its motion, passes out of its nature by being borne downward. In like manner, it is not the vastness of the heavens, and the bright shining of its constellations, and the order of the universe and the unbroken administration over all existence that so manifestly displays the transcendent power of the Deity, as this condescension to the weakness of our nature; the way, in fact, in which sublimity, existing in lowliness, is actually seen in lowliness, and yet descends not from its height, and in which Deity, entwined as it is with the nature of man, becomes this, and yet still is that. For since, as has been said before, it was not in the nature of the opposing power to come in contact with the undiluted presence of God, and to undergo His unclouded manifestation, therefore, in order to secure that the ransom in our behalf might be easily accepted by him who required it, the Deity was hidden under the veil of our nature, that so, as with ravenous fishhyperlink , the hook of the Deity might be gulped down along with the bait of flesh, and thus, life being introduced into the house of death, and light shining in darkness, that which is diametrically opposed to light and life might vanish; for it is not in the nature of darkness to remain when light is present, or of death to exist when life is active. Let us, then, by way of summary take up the train of the arguments for the Gospel mystery, and thus complete our answer to those who question this Dispensation of God, and show them on what ground it is that the Deity by a personal intervention works out the salvation of man. It is certainly most necessary that in every point the conceptions we entertain of the Deity should be such as befit the subject, and not that, while one idea worthy of His sublimity should be retained, another equally belonging to that estimate of Deity should be dismissed from it; on the contrary, every exalted notion, every devout thought, must most surely enter into our belief in God, and each must be made dependent on each in a necessary sequence. Well, then; it has been pointed out that His goodness, wisdom, justice, power, incapability of decay, are all of them in evidence in the doctrine of the Dispensation in which we are. His goodness is caught sight of in His election to save lost man; His wisdom and justice have been displayed in the method of our salvation; His power, in that, though born in the likeness and fashion of a man, on the lowly level of our nature, and in accordance with that likeness raising the expectation that he could be overmastered by death, he, after such a birth, nevertheless produced the effects peculiar and natural to Him. Now it is the peculiar effect of light to make darkness vanish, and of life to destroy death. Since, then, we have been led astray from the right path, and diverted from that life which was ours at the beginning, and brought under the sway of death, what is there improbable in the lesson we are taught by the Gospel mystery, if it be this; that cleansing reaches those who are befouled with sin, and life the dead, and guidance the wanderers, in order that defilement may be cleansed, error corrected, and what was dead restored to life?

Chapter XXV.

That Deity should be born in our nature, ought not reasonably to present any strangeness to the minds of those who do not take too narrow a view of things. For who, when he takes a survey of the universe, is so simple as not to believe that there is Deity in everything, penetrating it, embracing it, and seated in it? For all things depend on Him Who ishyperlink , nor can there be anything which has not its being in Him Who is. If, therefore, all things are in Him, and He in all things, why are they scandalized at the plan of Revelation when it teaches that God was born among men, that same God Whom we are convinced is even now not outside mankind? For although this last form of God's presence amongst us is not the same as that former presence, still His existence amongst us equally both then and now is evidenced; only now He Who holds together Nature in existence is transfused in us; while at that other time He was transfused throughout our nature, in order that our nature might by this transfusion of the Divine become itself divine, rescued as it was from death, and put beyond the reach of the caprice of the antagonist. For His return from death becomes to our mortal race the commencement of our return to the immortal life.

Chapter XXVI.

Still, in his examination of the amount of justice and wisdom discoverable in this Dispensation a person is, perhaps, induced to entertain the thought that it was by means of a certain amount of deceit that God carried out this scheme on our behalf. For that not by pure Deity alone, but by Deity veiled in human nature, God, without the knowledge of His enemy, got within the lines of him who had man in his power, is in some measure a fraud and a surprise; seeing that it is the peculiar way with those who want to deceive to divert in another direction the expectations of their intended victims, and then to effect something quite different from what these latter expected. But he who has regard for truth will agree that the essential qualities of justice and wisdom are before all things these; viz. of justice, to give to every one according to his due; of wisdom, not to pervert justice, and yet at the same time not to dissociate the benevolent aim of the love of mankind from the verdict of justice, but skilfully to combine both these requisites together, in regard to justicehyperlink returning the due recompense, in regard to kindness not swerving from the aim of that love of man. Let us see, then, whether these two qualities are not to be observed in that which took place. That repayment, adequate to the debt, by which the deceiver was in his turn deceived, exhibits the justice of the dealing, while the object aimed at is a testimony to the goodness of Him who effected it. It is, indeed, the property of justice to assign to every one those particular results of which he has sunk already the foundations and the causes, just as the earth returns its harvests according to the kinds of seeds thrown into it; while it is the property of wisdom, in its very manner of giving equivalent returns, not to depart from the kinder course. Two persons may both mix poison with food, one with the design of taking life, the other with the design of saving that life; the one using it as a poison, the other only as an antidote to poison; and in no way does the manner of the cure adopted spoil the aim and purpose of the benefit intended; for although a mixture of poison with the food may be effected by both of these persons alike, yet looking at their intention we are indignant with the one and approve the other; so in this instance, by the reasonable rule of justice, he who practised deception receives in return that very treatment, the seeds of which he had himself sown of his own free will. He who first deceived man by the bait of sensual pleasure is himself deceived by the presentment of the human form. But as regards the aim and purpose of what took place, a change in the direction of the nobler is involved; for whereas he, the enemy, effected his deception for the ruin of our nature, He Who is at once the just, and good, and wise one, used His device, in which there was deception, for the salvation of him who had perished, and thus not only conferred benefit on the lost one, but on him, too, who had wrought our ruin. For from this approximation of death to life, of darkness to light, of corruption to incorruption, there is effected an obliteration of what is worse, and a passing away of it into nothing, while benefit is conferred on him who is freed from those evils. For it is as when some worthless material has been mixed with gold, and the gold-refinershyperlink burn up the foreign and refuse part in the consuming fire, and so restore the more precious substance to its natural lustre: (not that the separation is effected without difficulty, for it takes time for the fire by its melting force to cause the baser matter to disappear; but for all that, this melting away of the actual thing that was embedded in it to the injury of its beauty is a kind of healing of the gold.) In the same way when death, and corruption, and darkness, and every other offshoot of evil had grown into the nature of the author of evil, the approach of the Divine power, acting like firehyperlink , and making that unnatural accretion to disappear, thus by purgationhyperlink of the evil becomes a blessing to that nature, though the separation is agonizing. Therefore even the adversary himself will not be likely to dispute that what took place was both just and salutary, that is, if he shall have attained to a perception of the boon. For it is now as with those who for their cure are subjected to the knife and the cautery; they are angry with the doctors, and wince with the pain of the incision; but if recovery of health be the result of this treatment, and the pain of the cautery passes away, they will feel grateful to those who have wrought this cure upon them. In like manner, when, after long periods of time, the evil of our nature, which now is mixed up with it and has grown with its growth, has been expelled, and when there has been a restoration of those who are now lying in Sin to their primal state, a harmony of thanksgiving will arise from all creationhyperlink , as well from those who in the process of the purgation have suffered chastisement, as from those who needed not any purgation at all. These and the like benefits the great mystery of the Divine incarnation bestows. For in those points in which He was mingled with humanity, passing as He did through all the accidents proper to human nature, such as birth, rearing, growing up, and advancing even to the taste of death, He accomplished all the results before mentioned, freeing both man from evil, and healing even the introducer of evil himself. For the chastisement, however painful, of moral disease is a healing of its weakness.

Chapter XXVII

It is, then, completely in keeping with this, that He Who was thus pouring Himself into our nature should accept this commixture in all its accidents. For as they who wash clothes do not pass over some of the dirt and cleanse the rest, but clear the whole cloth from all its stains, from one end to the other, that the cloak by being uniformly brightened from washing may be throughout equal to its own standard of cleanness, in like manner, since the life of man was defiled by sin, in its beginning, end, and all its intermediate states, there needed an abstergent force to penetrate the whole, and not to mend some one part by cleansing, while it left another unattended to. For this reason it is that, seeing that our life has been included between boundaries on either side, one, I mean, at its beginning, and the other at its ending, at each boundary the force that is capable of correcting our nature is to be found, attaching itself to the beginning, and extending to the end, and touching all between those two pointshyperlink . Since, then, there is for all men only one way of entrance into this life of ours, from whence was He Who was making His entrance amongst us to transport Himself into our life? From heaven, perhaps some one will say, who rejects with contempt, as base and degraded, this species of birth, i. e. the human. But there was no humanity in heaven: and in that supramundane existence no disease of evil had been naturalized; but He Who poured Himself into man adopted this commixture with a view to the benefit of it. Where, then, evil was not and the human life was not lived, how is it that any one seeks there the scene of this wrapping up of God in man, or, rather, not man, but some phantom resemblance of man? In what could the recovery of our nature have consisted if, while this earthly creature was diseased and needed this recovery, something else, amongst the heavenly beings, had experienced the Divine sojourning? It is impossible for the sick man to be healed, unless his suffering member receives the healing. If, therefore, while this sick part was on earth, omnipotence had touched it not, but had regarded only its own dignity, this its pre-occupation with matters with which we had nothing in common would have been of no benefit to man. And with regard to the undignified in the case of Deity we can make no distinction; that is, if it is allowable to conceive at all of anything beneath the dignity of Deity beside evil. On the contrary, for one who forms such a narrow-minded view of the greatness of the Deity as to make it consist in inability to admit of fellowship with the peculiarities of our nature, the degradation is in no point lessened by the Deity being conformed to the fashion of a heavenly rather than of an earthly body. For every created being is distant, by an equal degree of inferiority, from that which is the Highest, Who is unapproachable by reason of the sublimity of His Being: the whole universe is in value the same distance beneath Him. For that which is absolutely inaccessible does not allow access to some one thing while it is unapproachable by another, but it transcends all existences by an equal sublimity. Neither, therefore, is the earth further removed from this dignity, nor the heavens closer to it, nor do the things which have their existence within each of these elemental worlds differ at all from each other in this respect, that some are allowed to be in contact with the inaccessible Being, while others are forbidden the approach. Otherwise we must suppose that the power which governs the Universe does not equally pervade the whole, but in some parts is in excess, in others is deficient. Consequently, by this difference of less or more in quantity or quality, the Deity will appear in the light of something composite and out of agreement with itself; if, that is, we could suppose it, as viewed in its essence, to be far away from us, whilst it is a close neighbour to some other creature, and from that proximity easily apprehended. But on this subject of that exalted dignity true reason looks neither downward nor upward in the way of comparison; for all things sink to a level beneath the power which presides over the Universe: so that if it shall be thought by them that any earthly nature is unworthy of this intimate connection with the Deity, neither can any other be found which has such worthiness. But if all things equally fall short of this dignity, one thing there is that is not beneath the dignity of God, and that is, to do good to him that needed it. If we confess, then, that where the disease was, there the healing power attended, what is there in this belief which is foreign to the proper conception of the Deity?

Chapter XXVIII.

But they deride our state of nature, and din into our ears the manner of our being born, supposing in this way to make the mystery ridiculous, as if it were unbecoming in God by such an entrance into the world as this to connect Himself with the fellowship of the human life. But we touched upon this point before, when we said that the only thing which is essentially degraded is moral evil or whatever has an affinity with such evil; whereas the orderly process of Nature, arranged as it has been by the Divine will and law, is beyond the reach of any misrepresentation on the score of wickedness: otherwise this accusation would reach up to the Author of Nature, if anything connected with Nature were to be found fault with as degraded and unseemly. If, then, the Deity is separate only from evil, and if there is no nature in evil, and if the mystery declares that God was born in man but not in evil; and if, for man, there is but one way of entrance upon life, namely that by which the embryo passes on to the stage of life, what other mode of entrance upon life would they prescribe for God? these people, I mean, who, while they judge it right and proper that the nature which evil had weakened should be visited by the Divine power, yet take offence at this special method of the visitation, not remembering that the whole organization of the body is of equal value throughout, and that nothing in it, of all the elements that contribute to the continuance of the animal life, is liable to the charge of being worthless or wicked. For the whole arrangement of the bodily organs and limbs has been constructed with one end in view, and that is, the continuance in life of humanity; and while the other organs of the body conserve the present actual vitality of men, each being apportioned to a different operation, and by their means the faculties of sense and action are exercised, the generative organs on the contrary involve a forecast of the future, introducing as they do, by themselves, their counteracting transmission for our race. Looking, therefore, to their utility, to which of those parts which are deemed more honourable are these inferiorhyperlink ? Nay, than which must they not in all reason be deemed more worthy of honour? For not by the eye, or ear, or tongue, or any other sense, is the continuation of our race carried on. These, as has been remarked, pertain to the enjoyment of the present. But by those other organs the immortality of humanity is secured, so that death, though ever operating against us, thus in a certain measure becomes powerless and ineffectual, since Nature, to baffle him, is ever as it were throwing herself into the breach through those who come successively into being. What unseemliness, then, is contained in our revelation of God mingled with the life of humanity through those very means by which Nature carries on the combat against death?

Chapter XXIX.

But they change their ground and endeavour to vilify our faith in another way. They ask, if what took place was not to the dishonour of God or unworthy of Him, why did He delay the benefit so long? Why, since evil was in the beginning, did He not cut off its further progress?-To this we have a concise answer; viz. that this delay in conferring the benefit was owing to wisdom and a provident regard for that which would be a gain for our nature. In diseases, for instance, of the body, when some corrupt humour spreads unseen beneath the pores, before all the unhealthy secretion has been detected on the skin, they who treat diseases by the rules of art do not use such medicines as would harden the flesh, but they wait till all that lurks within comes out upon the surface, and then, with the disease unmasked, apply their remedies. When once, then, the disease of evil had fixed itself in the nature of mankind, He, the universal Healer, waited for the time when no form of wickedness was left still hidden in that nature. For this reason it was that He did not produce his healing for man's disease immediately on Cain's hatred and murder of his brother; for the wickedness of those who were destroyed in the days of Noah had not yet burst into a flame, nor had that terrible disease of Sodomite lawlessness been displayed, nor the Egyptians' war against Godhyperlink , nor the pride of Assyria, nor the Jews' bloody persecution of God's saints, nor Herod's cruel murder of the children, nor whatever else is recorded, or if unrecorded was done in the generations that followed, the root of evil budding forth in divers manners in the wilful purposes of man. When, then, wickedness had reached its utmost height, and there was no form of wickedness which men had not dared to do, to the end that the healing remedy might pervade the whole of the diseased system, He, accordingly, ministers to the disease; not at its beginning, but when it had been completely developed.

Chapter XXX.

If, however, any one thinks to refute our argument on this ground, that even after the application of the remedial process the life of man is still in discord through its errors, let us lead him to the truth by an example taken from familiar things. Take, for instance, the case of a serpent; if it receives a deadly blow on the head, the hinder part of the coil is not at once deadened along with it; but, while the head is dead, the tail part is still animated with its own particular spirit, and is not deprived of its vital motion: in like manner we may see Sin struck its deadly blow and yet in its remainders still vexing the life of man. But then they give up finding fault with the account of Revelation on these points, and make another charge against it; viz. that the Faith does not reach all mankind. "But why is it," they ask, "that all men do not obtain the grace, but that, while some adhere to the Word, the portion who remain unbelieving is no small one; either because God was unwilling to bestow his benefit ungrudgingly upon all, or because He was altogether unable to do so?" Now neither of these alternatives can defy criticism. For it is unworthy of God, either that He should not will what is good, or that He should be unable to do it. "If, therefore, the Faith is a good thing, why," they ask, "does not its grace come upon all men?" Nowhyperlink , if in our representation of the Gospel mystery we had so stated the matter as that it was the Divine will that the Faith should be so granted away amongst mankind that some men should be called, while the rest had no share in the calling, occasion would be given for bringing such a charge against this Revelation. But if the call came with equal meaning to all and makes no distinction as to worth, age, or different national characteristics (for it was for this reason that at the very first beginning of the proclamation of the Gospel they who ministered the Word were, by Divine inspiration, all at once enabled to speak in the language of any nation, viz. in order that no one might be destitute of a share in the blessings of evangelical instruction), with what reasonableness can they still charge it upon God that the Word has not influenced all mankind? For He Who holds the sovereignty of the universe, out of the excess of this regard for man, permitted something to be under our own control, of which each of us alone is master. Now this is the will, a thing that cannot be enslaved, and of self-determining power, since it is seated in the liberty of thought and mind. Therefore such a charge might more justly be transferred to those who have not attached themselves to the Faith, instead of resting on Him Who has called them to believe. For even when Peter at the beginning preached the Gospel in a crowded assembly of the Jews, and three thousand at once received the Faith, though those who disbelieved were more in number than the believers, they did not attach blame to the Apostle on the ground of their disbelief. It was, indeed, not in reason, when the grace of the Gospel had been publicly set forth, for one who had absented himself from it of his own accord to lay the blame of his exclusion on another rather than himself.

Chapter XXXI.

Yet, even in their reply to this, or the like, they are not at a loss for a contentious rejoinder. For they assert that God, if He had been so pleased, might have forcibly drawn those, who were not inclined to yield, to accept the Gospel message. But where then would have been their free will? Where their virtuous merit? Where their meed of praise from their moral directors? It belongs only to inanimate or irrational creatures to be brought round by the will of another to his purpose; whereas the reasoning and intelligent nature, if it lays aside its freedom of action, loses at the same time the gracious gift of intellect. For upon what is he to employ any faculty of thought, if his power of choosing anything according to his inclination lies in the will of another? But then, if the will remains without the capacity of action, virtue necessarily disappears, since it is shackled by the enforced quiescence of the will. Then, if virtue does not exist, life loses its value, reason moves in accordance with fatalism, the praise of moral guardianshyperlink is gone, sin may be indulged in without risk, and the difference between the courses of life is obliterated. For who, henceforth, could with any reason condemn profligacy, or praise sobriety? Sincehyperlink every one would have this ready answer, that nothing of all the things we are inclined to is in our own power, but that by some superior and ruling influence the wills of men are brought round to the purpose of one who has the mastery over them. The conclusion, then is that it is not the goodness of God that is chargeable with the fact that the Faith is not engendered in all men, but rather the disposition of those by whom the preaching of the Word is received.


52 appearance, parousian. Casaubon in his notes to Gregory's Ep. to Eustathia, gives a list of the various terms applied by the Greek Fathers to the Incarnation, viz. (besides parousia),-h tou Xristou epifaneia\ h despotikh epidhmia\ h dia sarkoj omilia\ h tou logou ensarkwsij\ h enanqrwphsij\ h eleusij\ h kenwsij\ h sugkatabasij\ h oikonomia (none more frequent than this); and others.

53 Tit. ii. 11. This is the preferable rendering; not as in the A.V., "appeared to all men."

54 unbloody Priesthood, anaimakton ierwsunhn, i. e. "sacerdotium," not "sacrificium." This, not qusian, is supported by the Codd. The Eucharist is often called by the Fathers "the unbloody sacrifice" (e. g. Chrysost. in Ps. xcv., citing Malachi), and the Priesthood which offers it can be called "unbloody" too. Cf. Greg. Naz. in Poem. xi. 1-

\W qusiaj pempontej anaimaktouj ierhej.

While these terms assert the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist, might they not at the same time supply an argument against the Roman view of Transubstantiation, which teaches that the actual blood of Christ is received, and makes it still a bloody sacrifice?

55 of the presence among them, &c. Cf. a striking passage in Origen; "One amongst the convincing proofs that Jesus was something Divine and holy is this; that the Jews after what they did to Him have suffered so many terrible afflictions for so long. And we shall be bold to say that they never will be restored again. They have committed the most impious of crimes. They plotted against the Saviour of mankind in that city where the ceremonies they continually performed for God enshrined great mysteries. It was right that that city where Jesus suffered should be utterly destroyed, and the Jewish nation expelled, and that God's call to blessedness should be made to others, I mean the Christians, to whom have passed the doctrines of a religion of stainless purity, and who have received new laws fitted for any form of government that exists" (c. Celsum, iv. 22). The Jews, he says, will even "suffer more than others in the judgment which they anticipate, in addition to what they have suffered already," ii. 8. But he says, v. 43, "Would that they had not committed the error of having broken their own law; first killing their prophets, and at last taking Jesus by stealth; for then we should still have amongst us the model of that heavenly city which Plato attempted to sketch, though I cannot say that his powers came up to those of Moses and his successors"

56 they took it (i. e. the religion, which for the future, &c.) in a wrong sense: kakwj eklabontej (Hasius, ad Leon. Diacon., shows how lambanin and metalambanein also have this meaning "interpret," "accipere"). This is a better reading than ekbalontej, and is supported by two mss.

57 then even. The apodosis begins here, and wste must be understood after upoleleiptai, to govern meinai, "were left standing, &c. that there remains."

58 The Greek Fathers and the English divines for the most part confine themselves to showing this moral fitness and consonance with God's nature in the Incarnation, and do not attempt to prove its absolute necessity. Cf. Athanasius, De Incarn. Verb. c. 6; Hooker, Eccles. Pol. V. li. 3; Butler's Analogy, pt. ii. c. 5.

59 to men ti (for toi). There is the same variety of reading in c. i. and xxi., where Krabinger has preserved the ti: he well quotes Synesius, de Prov. ii. 2; 9O men tij apoqnhskei plhgeij, o de k.t.l. (and refers to his note there).

60 Ps. cvi. 4, Ps. cvi. 5; Ps. (cv.) 4, Ps. (cv.) 5; Ps. cxix. (cxviii) 65, Ps. cxix. 66, Ps. cxix. 68. In the first passage the LXX. has tou idein en th xrhstothti twn eklektwn sou (Heb. "the felicity of Thy chosen"): evidently referring to God's eudokia in them; He, good Himself (xrhstoj, v. 1), will save them. "in order to approve their goodness." The second passage mentions four times this xrhstothj (bonitas).

61 of the course to be traversed: tou diecodeuomenou. Glauber remarks that the Latin translation here, "ejus qui transit," gives no sense. and rightly takes the word as a passive. Krabinger also translates, "ejus quod evolvitur." Here again there is unconscious Platonism: auto to kalon is eternal.

62 Compare a passage in Dionysius Areop. (De eccles. hierarch. c. iii. p. 207). "The boundless love of the Supreme Goodness did not refuse a personal providing for us, but perfectly participating in all that belongs to us, and united to our lowliness, along with an undiluted and unimpaired possession of its own qualities, has gifted us for ever with a communion of kinship with itself, and exhibited us as partners in Its glories: undoing the adverse power of the Rebel throng, as the secret Tradition says, "not by might, as if it was domineering, but, according to the oracle secretly delivered to us, by right and justice" (quoted by Krabinger). To the word "not by might," S. Maximus has added the note, "This is what Gregory of Nyssa says in the Catechetic." See next note.

63 one consonant with justice. This view of Redemption, as a coming to terms with Satan and making him a party or defender in the case, is rather remarkable. The Prologue to the Book of Job furnishes a basis for it, where Satan enters into terms with God. It appears to be the Miltonic view: as also that Envy was the first sin of Satan.

64 the absolution of the damned. These words, wanting in all others, Krabinger has restored from the Codex B. Morell translates "damnatorum absolutio." The Greek is thn twn katadikwn anarrusin. "Haec Orignem sapiunt, qui damnatorum poenis finem statuit:" Krabinger. But here at all events it is not necessary to accuse Gregory of this, since he is clearly speaking only of Christ's forgiveness of sins during His earthly ministry.

65 filotimia.

66 he chooses Him as a ransom. This peculiar teaching of Gregory of Nyssa, that it was to the Devil, not God the Father, that the ransom, i. e. Christ's blood, was paid, is shared by Origen, Ambrose, and Augustine. The latter says, "Sanguine Christi diabolus non ditatus est, sed ligatus," i. e. bound by compact. On the other hand Gregory Naz. (tom. I. Orat. 42) and John Damascene (De Fid. Orthod. iii. c. 27) give the ransom to the Father.

67 as with ravenous fish. The same simile is found in John of Damascus (De Fid. iii. 27), speaking of Death. "Therefore Death will advance, and, gulping down the bait of the Body, be transfixed with the hook of the Divinity: tasting that sinless and life-giving Body. he is undone, and disgorges all whom he has ever engulphed: for as darkness vanishes at the letting in of light so corruption is chased away by the onset of life, and while there is life given to all else, there is corruption only for the Corrupter."

68 Exod. iii. 14.

69 th men dikaiosunh. The dative is not governed by antididonta but corresponds to th de agaqothti (a dative of reference), which has no such verb after it. Krabinger therefore hardly translates correctly "justitiae quod datur, pro meritis tribuendo."

70 oi qerapeutai tou xrusiou On the margin of one of Krabinger's Codd. is written here in Latin, "This must be read with caution: it seems to savour of Origen's opinions" i. e. the curing of Satan.

71 Mal. iii. 2, Mal. iii. 3.

72 th kaqarsei. This is the reading of three of Krabinger's Codd. and that of Hervetus and Zinus; "purgatione," "purgationis": the context too of the whole chapter seems to require it. But Morell's Cod. had th afqarsia, and Ducaeus approved of retaining it. For this kaqarsij see especially Origen, c. Cels. vi. 44.

73 "Fax otherwise was it with the great thinkers of the early Church. ...They realized that redemption was a means to an end, and that end the reconsecration of the whole universe to God. And so the very completeness of their grasp upon the Atonement led them to dwell upon the cosmical significance of the Incarnation, its purpose to `gather together all things in one.

0' For it was an age in which the problems of the universe were keenly felt."-Lux Mundi, p. 134.

74 "In order that the sacrifice might be representative, He took upon Him the whole of our human nature and became flesh conditioned though that fleshly nature was throughout by sin. It was not only in His death that we contemplate Him as the sin-bearer: but throughout His life He was as it were conditioned by the sinfulness of those with whom His human nature brought Him into close and manifold relations."-Lux Mundi, p. 217 (Augustine, de Musicâ, vi. 4, quoted in note, "Hominem sine peccato, non sine peccatoris conditione, suscepit").

75 Cf. 1 Cor xii. 14-24.

75 Cf. 1 Cor xii. 14-24.

76 qeomaxia, word often applied by the Greek Fathers to the conduct of the Egyptians, in reference. of course, to Pharaoh.

77 The following passage is anti-Calvinistic. Gregory here, as continually elsewhere, asserts the freedom of the will; and is strongly supported by Justin Martyr, i. 43: "If it has been fixed by fate that one than shall be good, and another bad, the one is not praiseworthy, the other not culpable. And again, if mankind has not power by a free choice to flee the evil and to choose the good, it is not responsible for any results, however shocking."

78 twn katorqountwn.

79 This is an answer to modern "Ethical Determinants."