Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Incarnation of the Word.: For God has not only made us out of nothing; but He gave us freely, by the Grace of the Word, a life in correspondence with God.
§5. For God has not only made us out of nothing; but He gave us freely, by the Grace of the Word, a life in correspondence with God. But men, having rejected things eternal, and, by counsel of the devil, turned to the things of corruption, became the cause 209 of their own corruption in death, being, as I said before, by nature corruptible, but destined, by the grace following from partaking of the Word, to have escaped their natural state, had they remained good. 2. For because of the Word dwelling with them, even their natural corruption did not come near them, as Wisdom also says 210 : “God made man for incorruption, and as an image of His own eternity; but by envy of the devil death came into the world.” But when this was come to pass, men began to die, while corruption thence-forward prevailed against them, gaining even more than its natural power over the whole race, inasmuch as it had, owing to the transgression of the commandment, the threat of the Deity as a further advantage against them.
3. For even in their misdeeds men had not stopped short at any set limits; but gradually p. 39 pressing forward, have passed on beyond all measure: having to begin with been inventors of wickedness and called down upon themselves death and corruption; while later on, having turned aside to wrong and exceeding all lawlessness, and stopping at no one evil but devising all manner of new evils in succession, they have become insatiable in sinning. 4. For there were adulteries everywhere and thefts, and the whole earth was full of murders and plunderings. And as to corruption and wrong, no heed was paid to law, but all crimes were being practised everywhere, both individually and jointly. Cities were at war with cities, and nations were rising up against nations; and the whole earth was rent with civil commotions and battles; each man vying with his fellows in lawless deeds. 8. Nor were even crimes against nature far from them, but, as the Apostle and witness of Christ says: “For their 211 women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the women, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.”
Cf. Concil. Araus. II. Can. 23. Suam voluntatem homines faciunt, non Dei, quando id agunt quod Deo displicet.38:210
Wisd. ii. 23, sq.39:211
Rom. i. 26, sq.
Next: The human race then was wasting, God's image was being effaced, and His work ruined. Either, then, God must forego His spoken word by which man had incurred ruin; or that which had shared in the being of the Word must sink back again into destruction, in which case God's design would be defeated. What then? was God's goodness to suffer this? But if so, why had man been made? It could have been weakness, not goodness on God's part.
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