Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Life of Constantine with Orations of Constantine and Eusebius.: Chapter XXI
Chapter XXI.—That these Things cannot have been spoken of a Mere Man: and that Unbelievers, owing to their Ignorance of Religion, know not even the Origin of their own Existence.
It may be some will foolishly suppose that these words were spoken of the birth of a mere ordinary mortal. But if this were all, what reason could there be that the earth should need neither seed nor plough, that the vine should require no pruning-hook, or other means of culture? How can we suppose these things to be spoken of a mere mortals birth? For nature is the minister of the Divine will, not an instrument obedient to the command of man. Indeed, the very joy of the elements indicates the advent of God, not the conception of a human being. The prayer, too, of the poet that his life might be prolonged is a proof of the Divinity of him whom he invoked; for we desire life and preservation from God, and not from man. Indeed, the Erythræan Sibyl thus appeals to God: “Why, O Lord, dost thou compel me still to foretell the future, and not rather remove me from this earth to await the blessed day of thy coming?” And Maro adds to what he had said before:
p. 578 Begin, sweet boy! with smiles thy mother know,
Who ten long months did with thy burden go.
No mortal parents smiled upon thy birth:
No nuptial joy thou knowst, no feast of earth.
How could his parents have smiled on him? For his Father 3479 is God, who is a Power without sensible quality, 3480 existing, not in any definite shape, but as comprehending other beings, 3481 and not, therefore, in a human body. And who knows not that the Holy Spirit has no participation in the nuptial union? For what desire can exist in the disposition of that good which all things else desire? What fellowship, in short, can wisdom hold with pleasure? But let these arguments be left to those who ascribe to him a human origin, and who care not to purify themselves from all evil in word as well as deed. On thee, Piety, I call to aid my words, on thee who art the very law of purity, most desirable of all blessings, teacher of holiest hope, assured promise of immortality! Thee, Piety, and thee, Clemency, I adore. We who have obtained thine aid 3482 owe thee everlasting gratitude for thy healing power. But the multitudes whom their innate hatred of thyself deprives of thy succor, are equally estranged from God himself, and know not that the very cause of their life and being, and that of all the ungodly, is connected with the rightful worship of him who is Lord of all: for the world itself is his, and all that it contains.
“Father” is emendation of Valesius embodied in his translation (1659), but not his text (1659). It is bracketed by Molz. “His God [and Father].”578:3480
In this form it sounds much like Pantheism, but in translation of Molz. this reads, “but determinable through the bounds of other [existences].”578:3482
So Valesius conjectures it should read, but the text of Val. and Hein. read, “We needy ones owe,” &c.
Next: Chapter XXII
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