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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:
The Life of Constantine with Orations of Constantine and Eusebius.: Chapter III

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter III.—That God is the Father of the Word, and the Creator of all Things; and that Material Objects could not continue to exist, were their Causes Various.

God, who is ever above all existence, and the good which all things desire, has no origin, and therefore no beginning, being himself the originator 3375 of all things which receive existence. But he who proceeds from him is again united to him; and this separation from and union with him is not local, but intellectual in its character. For this generation was accompanied by no diminution of the Father’s substance (as in the case of generation by seed); but by the determining act of foreknowledge God manifested a Saviour presiding over 3376 this sensible world, and all created things therein. 3377 From hence, then, is the source of existence and life to all things which are within the compass of this world; hence proceed the soul, and every sense; 3378 hence those organs through which the sense-perceptions are perfected. What, then, is the object of this argument? To prove that there is One director of all things that exist, and that all things, whether in heaven or on earth, both natural and organized bodies, 3379 are subject to his single sovereignty. For if the dominion of these things, numberless as they are, were in the hands, not of one but of many, there must be a partition and distribution of the elements, and the old fables would be true; 3380 jealousy, too, and ambition, striving for superior power, would destroy the harmonious concord of the whole, while each of the many masters would regulate in a manner different from the rest the portion subject to his control. The fact, however, that this universal order is ever one and the same, is the proof that it is under the care of a superior power, and that its origin cannot be ascribed to chance. Else how could the author of universal nature ever be known? To whom first, or last, could prayers and supplications be addressed? Whom could I choose 3381 as the object of my worship, without being guilty of impiety towards the rest? Again, if haply I desired to obtain some temporal blessing, should I not, while expressing my gratitude to the Power who favored my request, convey a reproach to him who opposed it? Or to whom should I pray, when desiring to know the cause of my calamity, and to obtain deliverance? Or let us suppose that the answer is given by oracles and prophecies, p. 563 but that the case is not within the scope of their authority, being the province of some other deity. 3382 Where, then, is mercy? where is the provident care of God for the human race? Unless, indeed, some more benevolent Power, assuming a hostile attitude against another who has no such feeling, be disposed to accord me his protection. Hence anger, discords, mutual censure, and finally universal confusion, would ensue, while each departed from his proper sphere of action, dissatisfied, through ambitious love of power, with his allotted portion. What, then, would be the result of these things? Surely this discord among the heavenly powers would prove destructive to the interests of earth: the orderly alternation of times and seasons would disappear; the successive productions of the earth would be enjoyed no more: the day itself, and the repose of night which follows it, would cease to be. But enough on this subject: let us once more resume that species of reasoning which admits of no reply.





Presiding “overseer,” “president,” or “ruler.” It is the one who has charge of games or ships or public works, &c.


Cf. John 1:3, 13, 14, Eph. 1:10John 1:3, 13, 14, and Eph. i. 10. There is the greatest variety in the rendering of this passage, of which Bag.’s is the worst. The writer draws here on a philosophy of the Logos, which recognizes the second person of the Trinity as the creator and head of created things. The free version of Cousin gives the best flavor of the idea. “He was produced by the inexhaustible fecundity of his eternal mind to preside over the creation and government of this visible world.” A better translation waits on a better exposition of the doctrine of the Logos and its history.


Molz.renders “und die Organe, mit Hilfe derer das Wahrgenommene innerlich zur Idee erhoben wird.”


Chr.substantially “natural and artificial”; Molz. “lifeless and live”; perhaps “inorganic and organic” is meant.


[Alluding to the fabulous division of the world between the brothers Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto. Valesius in loc.Bag.] Or rather Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. Zeus had the heavens, Poseidon the sea, and Hades the underworld, while the earth remained “with high Olympus, common to us all”—a fruitful source of dissension. Cf. Homer, Il. XV. 184–195, ed. Doederlein, 2 (1864), p. 64–65; tr. Bryant, XV. ll. 227–245.


A possible reading here is ξαιρετως, i.e. take as the chief object, &c.—Vales. and Hein.


Valesius remarks that many instances are recorded where the oracle of Apollo replied to those who consulted him that Bacchus or Saturn must be placated in order to their liberation.

Next: Chapter IV