Page images
PDF
EPUB

took the earth in His own hand *.” But besides the noble frame of his body, though it was made of the dust of the earth, that Divine breath, and, by means of it, the infusion of a precious soul, mixes heaven and earth together ; not indeed in the common acceptation of that term, as if things so vastly different were promiscuously jumbled together, and the order of nature subverted; but only implying, that the two parts of the human constitution are compounded with inexpressible art, and joined in a close union. As to 'the misery of the human race, and the contemptible figure in which the life of man appears, it is to be ascribed to another source, very different from the earthly materials out of which his body was made. That he was created happy, beautiful, and honourable, he owed to his great and good Creator; but he himself is the author of his own misery. And hence it is, that though, with regard to his original and pure nature, we ought, for the strongest reasons, to speak more honourably of him than of any other part of the visible world; yet, if we view him in his present circumstances, no part of the creation, to be sure, deserves to be lamented in more mournful strains.

But what words can express, what thought can comprehend, the dignity and powers of that heavenly soul that inhabits this earthly body, and the Divine image that is stamped upon it ? The philosophers of all ages and nations have been inquiring into the nature of it, and have not yet found it out.

A great many have also amused themselves with too whimsical conjectures and fancies, and have endeavoured to discover, by very different methods, a figure of the blessed Trinity in the faculties of the soul. Nor was Methodius satisfied with finding a representation of this mystery in the soul of every particular man, but also imagined he had discovered it in the three first persons of the human race, viz., Adam, Eve, and their first born son; because in them he found unbegotten, begotten, and proceeding, as also unity of nature, and the

* Ουκ η γη αυτομάτως ώστερ τους τέστιγαο εξέβρασε, άλλ' ουκ είσε τώδε και τάδε ποιήσαι λειτουργίκαις δυνάμεσιν, άλλ ίδια χειρί φιλοτεχνεί γήν έλαβεν.

origination of all mankind. But not to insist upon these, it is certain the rational, or intellectual, and immortal soul, so long as it retained its original purity, was adorned with the lively and refulgent image of the Father of Spirits, its eternal Creator; but afterwards, when it became polluted and stained with sin, this image, though not immediately quite ruined, was, however, miserably obscured and defaced. It is true, the beautiful and erect frame of the human body, which gives it an advantage over all other creatures, and some other external graces that man possesses, may possibly be some reflected rays of the Divine excellence; but I should hardly call them the image of God. As St. Ambrose well observes, “How can flesh, which is but earth, be said to be made after the image of God, in whom there is no earth at all? And shall we be said to be like God, because we are of a higher rank than sheep and does ?"

The dominion over the rest of the creatures, which man enjoys, is a kind of faint shadow of the absolute and unlimited sway of the Supreme Majesty of heaven and earth. I dare not, however, venture to say, it is that image of which we are speaking; but, as those who draw the picture of a king, after laying down the lineaments of the face and body, use to add the purple robe and other ensigns of royalty, this dominion may certainly supply the place of these, with regard to this image of God on man. But the lively colours in which the image itself is drawn, are, says Nyssen, " purity, absence of evil, understanding, and speech*." For even the eternal Son and the Wisdom of the Father, seems to be intended by the philosophers under the term of The Creating Mindt; and by the divine apostle, John, he is called The Word. To these we have very good ground to add, charity, as nothing can be

* Caro terra est, qui dicatur ad imaginem Dei facta, cum in Deo terra non sit? et an eo Dei similes dicemur, quia damulis atque ovibus celsiores sumus ?

* Καθαρότης, κακου αλλοτρίωσις, νους, και λόγος, * Δημιούργου. .

Yes, you

named that renders man liker to God* ; for “ God is love, and the fountain of itt." It is true, charity is a valuable disposition of the mind, but it also discovers itself in the frame of the human body; for man was made quite defenceless, having neither horns, claws, nor sting, but naked and harmless, and, as it were, entirely formed for meekness, peace, and charity.

The same author, speaking of the image of God on man, expresses himself as follows: “ Wherefore, that you may be like God, exercise liberality and beneficence, study to be innocent, avoid every crime, subdue all the motions of sin-conquer all the beasts that are within you. What, you will say,

have I beasts within me ?

have beasts, and a vast number of them. And that you may not think I intend to insult you, is anger an inconsiderable beast, when it barks in your heart? What is deceit, when it lies hid in a cunning mind; is it not a fox? Is not the man who is furiously bent upon calumny, a scorpion ? Is not the person who is eagerly set on resentment and revenge, a most venomous viper? What do you say of a covetous man; is he not a ravenous wolf? And is not the luxurious man, as the prophet expresses it, a neighing horse? Nay, there is no wild beast but is found within us. And do you consider yourself as lord and prince of the wild beasts, because you command those that are without, though you never think of subduing or setting bounds to those that aré within you? What advantage have you by your reason, which enables you to overcome lions, if, after all, you yourself áre overcome by anger? To what purpose

do
you

rule over the birds, and catch them with gins, if you yourself, with the inconstancy of a bird, are hurried hither and thither, and sometimes, 'flying high, are ensnared by pride, sometimes brought down and caught by pleasure ? But, as it is shameful for him who rules over nations to be a slave at home, and for the man who sits at the helm of the state to be meanly sub

* Θεοειδέστερόν. .
* 'Αγάπη ο Θεός, και αγαπης πηγη.

jected to the beck of a contemptible harlot, or even of an imperious wife; will it not be, in like manner, disgraceful for you, who exercise dominion over the beasts that are without you, to be subject to a great many, and those of the worst sort, that roar and domineer in your distempered mind *?"

I shall, last of all, here subjoin what some of the ancients have observed, viz., " that the nature of the human soul, as it lies hid out of sight, and is to us quite unknown, bears an evident resemblance to that of God, who is Himself umsearchable and past finding out t.

“ But when we have well considered all these things, and the many other thoughts of this kind that may occur, may we not cry out, How surprising and shocking is the madness and folly of mankind; the far greater part whereof, as if they had quite forgot their original and native dignity, disparage themselves so far, as to pursue the meanest objects, and shamefully plunge themselves in mud.”

The words of Epictetus are divine, and have a wonderful savour of piety : “ You go to the city of Olympia,” says he, " to see some of the works of Phidias ; but you have no ambition to convene, in order to understand and look at those works which may be seen without travelling at all. Will you never understand what you are, nor why you were brought into the world; nor, finally, what that is which you have now an opportunity to view and contemplate 1?" And in another place, “ For, if we were wise, what have we else to do, both in public and in private, but to praise and celebrate the Deity, and to return our thanks to him ? Ought we not, while we are digging, plowing, and eating, to sing to God this hymn ?

* Θιώ ουν όμοιος έση δια της χρηστότητος, δια της ανεξικακίας. δια κοι, νωνίας, μισοπονηρός ών και κατάκρατών των πάθων των ενδον, άρχε θηρίων. τι ούν έρείς, εγω θήρια έχω έν έμαυσω; και μυρία πολύν όχλον εν σοι θηρίων έχεις, και μη ύβουν νομισας είναι το λεγόμενον. Πόσον θηρίον εστίν ο θύμος όταν υλακτή τη καρδία, &c.

* Κατ' εικόνα τυπικής του ανώνυμου, και αγνωριστού Θεού.

* Εις ολυμπίαν μεν αποδημείτε, εν είδητε το έργον του φειδιού –ότου δε ουδ αποδημήσαι κρέια έστιν ταυτα δε θεάσασθαι και κατανοήσαι ουκ επιθυμήσετι ουκ αισθήσεσθε τοίνυν ούτε τίνες εστί, ούτί επί σι γεγόνατα, ούτ' επί τί τούτο εστίν έφ' και τον θέαν παρειλήφασι? Arr. lib. i. cap. 6.

Great is the Lord, who has provided us with these necessaries of life*,” fc.

As for you, young gentlemen, I would have you to be sensible of the honour and dignity of your original state ; and to be deeply impressed with the indignity and disgrace of your nature, now fallen and vitiated. And dwell particularly upon the contemplation of it. Suffer not the great honour and dignity of the human race, which is, to know the Eternal and invisible God, to acknowledge Him, love Him, and worship Him, to decay and die away within you. This, alas! is the way of the far greater part of the world; but do you live in continual remembrance of your original, and assert your claim to Heaven, as being originally from it, and soon to return to it again.

LECTURE XIII.

Of Providence.

THE doctrines we have been handling, are the great supports of faith, piety, and the whole of religion: wherefore, it is most just, that the zeal and care of the scholars should concur with that of their teachers, to have them well secured in the mind and affections; for, “ a weak foundation,” as the lawyers observe, “ is the ruin of the workt." There are two principal pillars, and, as it were, the Jachin and Boaz of the living temples of God, which the Apostle to the Hebrews lays down in these words : He that cometh to God (under which expression are comprehended every devout affection and every act of religious worship) must believe that God is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Heb. xi. 6. · That God is, implies not only that He is eternal and self

* Ει γαρ νούν έιχομεν, αλλά τι έδει υμάς ποιεϊν και κοινή και ιδία ή υμνεϊν το θεούς και ευφημεϊν και επεξέρχεσθαι τας χάριτας ; ουκ έδει και σκάπτοντας και αρoύντας και ελσίοντας άδειν, μέγας ο θεός ότι ημίν πάρεχεν όργανα ταυτα. Ibid. cap. 16.

of Debile enim fundamentum fallit opus,

« PreviousContinue »