Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Lactantius: Chap. LXIX.—That the world was made on account of man, and man on account of God
Chap. LXIX.—That the World Was Made on Account of Man, and Man on Account of God.
I will now say what is that chief 1599 point which not even those who spoke the truth were able to connect together, bringing into one view causes and reasons. The world was made by God, that men might be born; again, men are born, that they may acknowledge God as a Father, in whom is wisdom; they acknowledge Him, that they may worship Him, in whom is justice; they worship Him, that they may receive the reward of immortality; they receive immortality, that they may serve God for ever. Do you see how closely connected the first are with the middle, and the middle with the last? Let us look into them separately, and see whether they are consistent 1600 with each other. God made the world on account of man. He who does not see this, does not differ much from a beast. Who but man looks up to the heaven? who views with admiration the sun, who the stars, who all the works of God? Who inhabits the earth? who receives the fruit from it? Who has in his power the fishes, who the winged creatures, who the quadrupeds, except man? Therefore God made all things on account of man, because all things have turned out for the use of man.
The philosophers saw this, but they did not see the consequence, that He made man himself on His own account. For it was befitting, and pious, and necessary, that since He contrived such great works for the sake of man, when He gave him so much honour, and so much power, that he should bear rule in the world, man should both acknowledge God, the Author of such great benefits, who made the world itself on his account, and should pay Him the worship and honour due to Him. Here Plato erred; here he lost the truth which he had at first laid hold of, when he was silent concerning the worship of that God whom he confessed to be the framer and parent of all things, and did not understand that man is bound to God by the ties of piety, whence religion itself receives its name, and that this is the only thing on account of which souls become immortal. He perceived, however, that they are eternal, but he did not descend by the regular gradations to that opinion. For the middle arguments being taken away, he rather fell into the truth, as though by some abrupt precipice; nor did he advance further, since he had found the truth by accident, and not by reason. Therefore God is to be worshipped, that by means of religion, which is also justice, man may receive from God immortality, nor is there any other reward of a pious mind; and if this is p. 253 invisible, it cannot be presented by the invisible God with any reward but that which is invisible.
Utrumne illis ratio subsistat.
Next: Chap. LXX.—The immortality of the soul is confirmed
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