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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Soul and its Origin.: Chapter 6

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 6.—The Simile Reformed in Accordance with Truth.

Well, now, you ought to have thought of all this when you were writing, and not to have brought God before our eyes in that favourite simile of yours, of inflated and inflateable bags, breathing forth souls out of some other nature which was already in existence, just as we ourselves make our breath from the air which surrounds us; or certainly you should not, in a manner which is really as diverse from your similitude as it is abundant in impiety, have represented God as either producing some changeable thing without injury, indeed, to Himself, but yet out of His own substance; or what is worse, creating it in such wise as to be Himself the material of His own work. If, however, we are to employ a similitude drawn from our breathing which shall suitably illustrate this subject, the following one is more credible: Just as we, whenever we breathe, make a breath, not out of our own nature, but, because we are not omnipotent, out of that air that surrounds us, which we inhale and discharge whenever we breathe and respire; and the said breath is neither living nor sentient, although we are ourselves living and sentient; so God can—not, indeed, out of His own nature, but (as being so omnipotent as to be able to create whatever He wills) even out of that which has no existence at all, that is to say, out of nothing—make a breath that is living and sentient, but evidently mutable, though He be Himself immutable.


Next: Chapter 7

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