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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Soul and its Origin.: Chapter 5

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 5 [III.]—In What Sense Created Beings are Out of God.

Now, just because I do not suppose that you, a member of the catholic Church, ever believed the human soul to be a portion of God, or that the soul’s nature is in any degree identical with God’s, I have some apprehension lest you may have been induced to fall in with this man’s opinion, that “God did not make the soul from nothing, but that the soul is so far out of Him as to have emanated from Him.” For he has put out such a statement as this, with his other opinions, which have led him out of the usual track on this subject to a huge precipice. Now, if he has taught you this, I do not want you to teach it to me; nay, I should wish you to unlearn what you have been taught. For it is not enough to avoid believing and saying that the soul is a part of God. We do not even say that the Son or the Holy Ghost is a part of God, although we affirm that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all of one and the same nature. It is not, then, enough for us to avoid saying that the soul is a part of God, but it is of indispensable importance that we should say that the soul and God are not of one and the self-same nature. This person is therefore right in declaring that “souls are God’s offspring, not by nature, but by gift;” and then, of course, not the souls of all men, but of the faithful. But afterwards he returned to the statement from which he had shrunk, and affirmed that God and the soul are of the same nature—not, indeed, in so many words, but plainly and manifestly to such a purport. For when he says that the soul is out of God, in such a manner that God created it not out of any other nature, nor out of nothing, but out of His own self, what would he have us believe but the very thing which he denies, in other words, even that the soul is of the self-same nature as God Himself is? For every nature is either God, who has no author; or out of God, as having Him for its Author. But the nature which has for its author God, out of whom it comes, is either not made, or made. Now, that nature which is not made and yet is out of Him, is either begotten by Him or proceeds from Him. That which is begotten is His only Son, p. 333 that which proceedeth is the Holy Ghost, and this Trinity is of one and the self-same nature. For these three are one, and each one is God, and all three together are one God, unchangeable, eternal, without any beginning or ending of time. That nature, on the other hand, which is made is called “creature;” God is its Creator, even the blessed Trinity. The creature, therefore, is said to be out of God in such wise as not to be made out of His nature. It is predicated as out of Him, inasmuch as it has in Him the author of its being, not so as to have been born of Him, or to have proceeded from Him, but as having been created, moulded, and formed by Him, in some cases, out of no other substance,—that is, absolutely out of nothing, as, for instance, the heaven and the earth, or rather the whole material of the universe coeval in its creation with the world—but, in some cases, out of another nature already created and in existence, as, for instance, man out of the dust, woman out of the man, and man out of his parents. Still, every creature is out of God,—but out of God as its creator either out of nothing, or out of something previously existing, not, however, as its begetter or its producer from His own very self.

Next: Chapter 6

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