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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Manichæan Controversy.: Chapter 25

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 25.—Omnipotence Creates Good Things Differing in Degree.  In Every Description Whatsoever of the Junction of the Two Regions There is Either Impropriety or Absurdity.

27.  If, then, you are now convinced that God is able to create some good thing out of nothing, come into the Catholic Church, and learn that all the natures which God has created and founded in their order of excelp. 141 lence from the highest to the lowest are good, and some better than others; and that they were made of nothing, though God, their Maker, made use of His own wisdom as an instrument, so to speak, to give being to what was not, and that as far as it had being it might be good, and that the limitation of its being might show that it was not begotten by God, but made out of nothing.  If you examine the matter, you will find nothing to keep you from agreeing to this.  For you cannot make your region of light to be what God is, without making the dark section an infringement on the very nature of God.  Nor can you say that it was generated by God, without being reduced to the same enormity, from the necessity of concluding that as begotten of God, it must be what God is.  Nor can you say that it was distinct from Him, lest you should be forced to admit that God placed His kingdom in what did not belong to Him, and that there are three natures.  Nor can you say that God made it of a substance distinct from His own, without making something good besides God, or something evil besides the race of darkness.  It remains, therefore that you must confess that God made the region of light out of nothing:  and you are unwilling to believe this; because if God could make out of nothing some great good which yet was inferior to Himself, He could also, since He is good, and grudges no good, make another good inferior to the former, and again a third inferior to the second, and so on, in order down to the lowest good of created natures, so that the whole aggregate, instead of extending indefinitely without number or measure should have a fixed and definite consistency.  Again, if you will not allow this either, that God made the region of light out of nothing, you will have no escape from the shocking profanities to which your opinions lead.

28.  Perhaps, since the carnal imagination can fancy any shapes it likes, you might be able to devise some other form for the junction of the two regions, instead of presenting to the mind such a disagreeable and painful description as this, that the region of God, whether it be of the same nature as God or not, where at least God’s kingdoms are founded, lies through immensity in such a huge mass that its members stretch loosely to an infinite extent, and that on their lower part that wedge of the region of darkness, itself of boundless size encroaches upon them.  But whatever other form you contrive for the junction of these two regions, you cannot erase what Manichæus has written.  I refer not to other treatises where a more particular description is given,—for perhaps, because they are in the hands of only a few, there might not be so much difficulty with them,—but to this Fundamental Epistle which we are now considering, with which all of you who are called enlightened are usually quite familiar.  Here the words are:  "On one side the border of the shining and sacred region was the region of darkness, deep and boundless in extent."

Next: Chapter 26