Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IX:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
John of Damascus: Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.: Proof that there is a God.
Chapter III.—Proof that there is a God.
That there is a God, then, is no matter of doubt to those who receive the Holy Scriptures, the Old Testament, I mean, and the New; nor indeed to most of the Greeks. For, as we said 1423 , the knowledge of the existence of God is implanted in us by nature. But since the wickedness of the Evil One has prevailed so mightily against mans nature as even to drive some into denying the existence of God, that most foolish and woe-fulest pit of destruction (whose folly David, revealer of the Divine meaning, exposed when he said 1424 , The fool said in his heart, There is no God), so the disciples of the Lord and His Apostles, made wise by the Holy Spirit and working wonders in His power and grace, took them captive in the net of miracles and drew them up out of the depths of ignorance 1425 to the light of the knowledge of God. In like manner also their successors in grace and worth, both pastors and teachers, having received the enlightening grace of the Spirit, were wont, alike by the power of miracles and the word of grace, to enlighten those walking in darkness and to bring back the wanderers into the way. But as for us who 1426 are not recipients either of the gift of miracles or the gift of teaching (for indeed we have rendered ourselves unworthy of these by our passion for pleasure), come, let us in connection with this theme discuss a few of those things which have been delivered to us on this subject by the expounders of grace, calling on the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
All things, that exist, are either created or uncreated. If, then, things are created, it follows that they are also wholly mutable. For things, whose existence originated in change, must also be subject to change, whether it be that they perish or that they become other than they are by act of will 1427 . But if things are uncreated they must in all consistency be also wholly immutable. For things which are opposed in the nature of their existence must also be opposed in the mode of their existence, that is to say, must have opposite properties: who, then, will refuse to grant that all existing things, not only such as come within the province of the senses, but even the very angels, are subject to change and transformation and movement of various kinds? For the things appertaining to the rational world, I mean angels and spirits and demons, are subject to changes of will, whether it is a progression or a retrogression in goodness, whether a struggle or a surrender; while the others suffer changes of generation and destruction, of increase and decrease, of quality and of movement in space. Things then that are mutable are also wholly created. But things that are created must be the work of some maker, and the maker cannot have been created. For if he had been created, he also must surely have been created by some one, and so on till we arrive at something uncreated. The Creator, then, being uncreated, is also wholly immutable. And what could this be other than Deity?
p. 3b And even the very continuity of the creation, and its preservation and government, teach us that there does exist a Deity, who supports and maintains and preserves and ever provides for this universe. For how 1428 could opposite natures, such as fire and water, air and earth, have combined with each other so as to form one complete world, and continue to abide in indissoluble union, were there not some omnipotent power which bound them together and always is preserving them from dissolution?
What is it that gave order to things of heaven and things of earth, and all those things that move in the air and in the water, or rather to what was in existence before these, viz., to heaven and earth and air and the elements of fire and water? What 1429 was it that mingled and distributed these? What was it that set these in motion and keeps them in their unceasing and unhindered course 1430 ? Was it not the Artificer of these things, and He Who hath implanted in everything the law whereby the universe is carried on and directed? Who then is the Artificer of these things? Is it not He Who created them and brought them into existence. For we shall not attribute such a power to the spontaneous 1431 . For, supposing their coming into existence was due to the spontaneous; what of the power that put all in order 1432 ? And let us grant this, if you please. What of that which has preserved and kept them in harmony with the original laws of their existence 1433 ? Clearly it is something quite distinct from the spontaneous 1434 . And what could this be other than Deity 1435 ?
Supr.c. 1; cf. Greg. Naz., Orat. 34.2b:1424
Ps. xiv. 1 (E.V.).2b:1425
The readings vary between ἀγνωσίας and ἀγνοίας.2b:1426
Greg. Naz., Orat. 34.2b:1427
Reading προαίρεσιν; a variant is τροπήν.3b:1428
Athan., Cont. Gent.3b:1429
Various reading, Who.3b:1430
Greg. Naz., Orat. 34.3b:1431
The Greek is τῳ αὐτομάτῳ, to the automatic; perhaps = to the accidental, or, to chance.3b:1432
Or, Whose was the disposing of them in order?3b:1433
Or, Whose are the preserving of them, and the keeping of them in accordance with the principles under which they were first placed?3b:1434
παρα τὸ αὐτόματον; or, quite other than the spontaneous, or,than chance.3b:1435
Athan., De Incarn. Verbi, near the beginning. Greg. Naz., Orat. 34.
Next: Concerning the nature of Deity: that it is incomprehensible.
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