p. 387 On the Making of Man.
If we had to honour with rewards of money those who excel in virtue, the whole world of money, as Solomon says 1587 , would seem but small to be made equal to your virtue in the balance. Since, however, the debt of gratitude due to your Reverence is greater than can be valued in money, and the holy Eastertide demands the accustomed gift of love, we offer to your greatness of mind, O man of God, a gift too small indeed to be worthy of presentation to you, yet not falling short of the extent of our power. The gift is a discourse, like a mean garment, woven not without toil from our poor wit, and the subject of the discourse, while it will perhaps be generally thought audacious, yet seemed not unfitting. For he alone has worthily considered the creation of God who truly was created after God, and whose soul was fashioned in the image of Him Who created him,—Basil, our common father and teacher,—who by his own speculation made the sublime ordering of the universe generally intelligible, making the world as established by God in the true Wisdom known to those who by means of his understanding are led to such contemplation: but we, who fall short even of worthily admiring him, yet intend to add to the great writers speculations that which is lacking in them, not so as to interpolate his work by insertion 1588 (for it is not to be thought of that that lofty mouth should suffer the insult of being given as authority for our discourses), but so that the glory of the teacher may not seem to be failing among his disciples.
For if, the consideration of man being lacking in his Hexaëmeron, none of those who had been his disciples contributed any earnest effort to supply the defect, the scoffer would perhaps have had a handle against his great fame, on the ground that he had not cared to produce in his hearers any habit of intelligence. But now that we venture according to our powers upon the exposition of what was lacking, if anything should be found in our work such as to be not unworthy of his teaching, it will surely be referred to our teacher: while if our discourse does not reach the height of his sublime speculation, he will be free from this charge and escape the blame of seeming not to wish that his disciples should have any skill at all, though we perhaps may be answerable to our censurers as being unable to contain in the littleness of our heart the wisdom of our instructor.
The scope of our proposed enquiry is not small: it is second to none of the wonders of the world,—perhaps even greater than any of those known to us, because no other existing thing, save the human creation, has been made like to God: thus we shall readily find that allowance will be made for what we say by kindly readers, even if our discourse is far behind the merits of the subject. For it is our business, I suppose, to leave nothing unexamined of all that concerns man,—of what we believe to have taken place previously, of what we now see, and of the results which are expected afterwards to appear (for surely our effort would be convicted of failing of its promise, if, when man is proposed for contemplation, any of the questions which bear upon the subject were to be omitted); and, moreover, we must fit together, according to the explanation of Scripture and to that derived from reasoning, those statements concerning him which seem, by a kind of necessary sequence, to be opposed, so that our whole subject may be consistent in train of thought and in order, as the statements that seem to be contrary are brought (if the Divine power so discovers a hope for what is beyond hope, and a way for what is inextricable) to one and the same end: and for clearness sake I think it well to set forth to you the discourse by chapters, that you may be able briefly to know the force of the several arguments of the whole work.
p. 388 2. Why man appeared last, after the creation.
12. An examination of the question where the ruling principle is to be considered to reside; wherein also is a discussion of tears and laughter, and a physiological speculation as to the interrelation of matter, nature, and mind.
15. That the soul proper, in fact and name, is the rational soul, while the others are called so equivocally: wherein also is this statement, that the power of the mind extends throughout the whole body in fitting contact with every part.
16. A contemplation of the Divine utterance which said,—“Let us make man after our image and likeness;” wherein is examined what is the definition of the image, and how the passible and mortal is like to the Blessed and Impassible, and how in the image there are male and female, seeing these are not in the Prototype.
Prov. xvii. 6 (LXX.). The clause is not found in the English version.387:1588