This reasoning and intelligent creature, man, at once the work and the likeness of the Divine and Imperishable Mind (for so in the Creation it is written of him that “God made man in His image 1410 ”), this creature, I say, did not in the course of his first production have united to the very essence of his nature the liability to passion and to death. Indeed, the truth about the image could never have been maintained if the beauty reflected in that image had been in the slightest degree opposed 1411 to the Archetypal Beauty. Passion was introduced afterwards, subsequent to mans first organization; and it was in this way. Being the image and the likeness, as has been said, of the Power which rules all things, man kept also in the matter of a Free-Will this likeness to Him whose Will is over all. He was enslaved to no outward necessity whatever; his feeling towards that which pleased him depended only on his own private judgment; he was free to choose whatever he liked; and so he was a free agent, though circumvented with cunning, when he drew upon himself that disaster which now overwhelms humanity. He became himself the discoverer of evil, but he did not therein discover what God had made; for God did not make death. Man became, in fact, himself the fabricator, to a certain extent, and the craftsman of evil. All who have the faculty of sight may enjoy equally the sunlight; and any one can if he likes put this enjoyment from him by shutting his eyes: in that case it is not that the sun retires and produces that darkness, but the man himself puts a barrier between his eye and the sunshine; the faculty of vision cannot indeed, even in the closing of the eyes, remain inactive 1412 , and so this operative sight necessarily becomes an operative darkness 1413 rising up in the man from his own free act in ceasing to see. Again, a man in building a house for himself may omit to make in it any way of entrance for the light; he will necessarily be in darkness, though he cuts himself off from the light voluntarily. So the first man on the earth, or rather he who generated evil in man, had for choice the Good and the Beautiful lying all around him in the very nature of things; yet he wilfully cut out a new way for himself against this nature, and in the act of turning away from virtue, which was his own free act, he created the usage of evil. For, be it observed, there is no such thing in the world as evil irrespective of a will, and discoverable in a substance apart from that. Every creature of God is good, and nothing of His “to be rejected”; all that God made was “very good 1414 .” But the habit of sinning entered as we have described, and with fatal quickness, into the life of man; and from that small beginning spread into this infinitude of evil. Then that godly beauty of the soul which was an imitation of the Archetypal Beauty, like fine steel blackened 1415 with the vicious rust, preserved no longer the glory of its familiar essence, but was disfigured with the ugliness of sin. This thing so great and precious 1416 , as the Scripture calls him, this being man, has fallen from his proud birthright. As those who have slipped and fallen heavily into mud, and have all their features so besmeared with it, that their nearest friends do not recognize them, so this creature has fallen into the mire of sin and lost the blessing of being an image of the imperishable Deity; he has clothed himself instead with a perishable and foul resemblance to something else; and this Reason p. 358 counsels him to put away again by washing it off in the cleansing water of this calling 1417 . The earthly envelopment once removed, the souls beauty will again appear. Now the putting off of a strange accretion is equivalent to the return to that which is familiar and natural; yet such a return cannot be but by again becoming that which in the beginning we were created. In fact this likeness to the divine is not our work at all; it is not the achievement of any faculty of man; it is the great gift of God bestowed upon our nature at the very moment of our birth; human efforts can only go so far as to clear away the filth of sin, and so cause the buried beauty of the soul to shine forth again. This truth is, I think, taught in the Gospel, when our Lord says, to those who can hear what Wisdom speaks beneath a mystery, that “the Kingdom of God is within you 1418 .” That word 1419 points out the fact that the Divine good is not something apart from our nature, and is not removed far away from those who have the will to seek it; it is in fact within each of us, ignored indeed, and unnoticed while it is stifled beneath the cares and pleasures of life, but found again whenever we can turn our power of conscious thinking towards it. If further confirmation of what we say is required, I think it will be found in what is suggested by our Lord in the searching for the Lost Drachma 1420 . The thought, there, is that the widowed soul reaps no benefit from the other virtues (called drachmas in the Parable) being all of them found safe, if that one other is not amongst them. The Parable therefore suggests that a candle should first be lit, signifying doubtless our reason which throws light on hidden principles; then that in ones own house, that is, within oneself, we should search for that lost coin; and by that coin the Parable doubtless hints at the image of our King, not yet hopelessly lost, but hidden beneath the dirt; and by this last we must understand the impurities of the flesh, which, being swept and purged away by carefulness of life, leave clear to the view the object of our search. Then it is meant that the soul herself who finds this rejoices over it, and with her the neighbours, whom she calls in to share with her in this delight. Verily, all those powers which are the housemates of the soul, and which the Parable names her neighbours for this occasion 1421 , when so be that the image of the mighty King is revealed in all its brightness at last (that image which the Fashioner of each individual heart of us has stamped upon this our Drachma 1422 ), will then be converted to that divine delight and festivity, and will gaze upon the ineffable beauty of the recovered one. “Rejoice with me,” she says, “because I have found the Drachma which I had lost.” The neighbours, that is, the souls familiar powers, both the reasoning and the appetitive, the affections of grief and of anger, and all the rest that are discerned in her, at that joyful feast which celebrates the finding of the heavenly Drachma are well called her friends also; and it is meet that they should all rejoice in the Lord when they all look towards the Beautiful and the Good, and do everything for the glory of God, no longer instruments of sin 1423 . If, then, such is the lesson of this Finding of the lost, viz. that we should restore the divine image from the foulness which the flesh wraps round it to its primitive state, let us become that which the First Man was at the moment when he first breathed. And what was that? Destitute he was then of his covering of dead skins, but he could gaze without shrinking upon Gods countenance. He did not yet judge of what was lovely by taste or sight; he found in the Lord alone all that was sweet; and he used the helpmeet given him only for this delight, as Scripture signifies when it said that “he knew her not 1424 ” till he was driven forth from the garden, and till she, for the sin which she was decoyed into committing, was sentenced to the pangs of childbirth. We, then, who in our first ancestor were thus ejected, are allowed to return to our earliest state of blessedness by the very same stages by which we lost Paradise. What are they? Pleasure, craftily offered, began the Fall, and there followed after pleasure shame, and fear, even to remain longer in the sight of their Creator, so that they hid themselves in leaves and shade; and after that they covered themselves with the skins of dead animals; and then were sent forth into this pestilential and exacting land where, as the compensation for having to die, marriage was instituted 1425 . Now if we are destined “to depart hence, and be with Christ 1426 ,” we must begin at the end of the route of departure (which lies nearest to ourselves); just as those who have travelled far from their friends at home, when they turn to reach again the place from which they started, first leave that district which they reached at the end of their outward journey. Marriage, then, is the last stage of our separation from the life that was led in Paradise; marriage therefore, as our discourse has been suggesting, is the first thing to be left; it is the first station as it were for our departure to Christ. Next, we must retire from all anxious toil upon the land, such as man was p. 359 bound to after his sin. Next we must divest ourselves of those coverings of our nakedness, the coats of skins, namely the wisdom of the flesh; we must renounce all shameful things done in secret 1427 , and be covered no longer with the fig-leaves of this bitter world; then, when we have torn off the coatings of this lifes perishable leaves, we must stand again in the sight of our Creator; and repelling all the illusion of taste and sight, take for our guide Gods commandment only, instead of the venom-spitting serpent. That commandment was, to touch nothing but what was Good, and to leave what was evil untasted; because impatience to remain any longer in ignorance of evil would be but the beginning of the long train of actual evil. For this reason it was forbidden to our first parents to grasp the knowledge of the opposite to the good, as well as that of the good itself; they were to keep themselves from “the knowledge of good and evil 1428 ,” and to enjoy the Good in its purity, unmixed with one particle of evil: and to enjoy that, is in my judgment nothing else than to be ever with God, and to feel ceaselessly and continually this delight, unalloyed by aught that could tear us away from it. One might even be bold to say that this might be found the way by which a man could be again caught up into Paradise out of this world which lieth in the Evil, into that Paradise where Paul was when he saw the unspeakable sights which it is not lawful for a man to talk of 1429 .
Cf. Prov. xx. 6, μέγα ἄνθρωπος; and Ambrose (de obitu Theodosii), “Magnum et honorabile est homo misericors;” and the same on Ps. cxix. 73, “Grande homo, et preciosum vir misericors, et vere magnus est, qui divini operis interpres est, et imitator Dei.”358:1417 358:1418
S. Luke xvii. 21.358:1419 358:1420
S. Luke xv. 8358:1421 358:1422 358:1423 358:1424 358:1425 358:1426 359:1427 359:1428 359:1429
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