Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Against the Heathen. (Contra Gentes.): Section 35
§35. Creation a revelation of God; especially in the order and harmony pervading the whole.
For God, being good and loving to mankind, and caring for the souls made by Him,—since He is by nature invisible and incomprehensible, having His being beyond all created existence 153 , for which reason the race of mankind was likely to miss the way to the knowledge of Him, since they are made out of nothing while He is unmade,—for this cause God by His own Word gave the Universe the Order it has, in order that since He is by nature invisible, men might be enabled to know Him at any rate by His works 154 . For often the artist even when not seen is known by his works. 2. And as they tell of Phidias the Sculptor that his works of art by their symmetry and by the proportion of their parts betray Phidias to those who see them although he is not there, so by the order of the Universe one ought to perceive God its maker and artificer, even though He be not seen with the bodily eyes. For God did not take His stand upon His invisible nature (let none plead that as an excuse) and leave Himself utterly unknown to men; but as I said above, He so ordered Creation that although He is by nature invisible He may yet be known by His works. 3. And I say this not on my own authority, but on the strength of what I learned from men who have spoken of God, among them Paul, who thus writes to the Romans 155 : “for the invisible things of Him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made;” while to the Lycaonians he speaks out and says 156 : “We also are men of like passions with you, and bring you good tidings, to turn from these p. 23 vain things unto a Living God, Who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is, Who in the generations gone by suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. And yet He left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave you 157 from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness.” 4. For who that sees the circle of heaven and the course of the sun and the moon, and the positions and movements of the other stars, as they take place in opposite and different directions, while yet in their difference all with one accord observe a consistent order, can resist the conclusion that these are not ordered by themselves, but have a maker distinct from themselves who orders them? or who that sees the sun rising by day and the moon shining by night, and waning and waxing without variation exactly according to the same number of days, and some of the stars running their courses and with orbits various and manifold, while others move 158 without wandering, can fail to perceive that they certainly have a creator to guide them?
Cf. below, 40. 2.22:154
Cf. Orat. ii. 32.22:155
Rom. i. 20.22:156
Acts xiv. 15.23:157
ὑμῖν and ὑμῶν below are read by several mss., and are probably correct as in the original passage.23:158
The fixed stars as distinct from the planets. For the argument, cf. Plato, Legg. 966 E.
Next: This the more striking, if we consider the opposing forces out of which this order is produced.
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