If, however, anyone dares to ascribe a corruption of substance to him who was made after the ‘image and likeness of God’, he will be extending this impious charge, in my opinion to the Son of God himself; for he who things this will certainly be attacking the authority of Scripture, which says that man was made in the ‘image of God’. Moreover the marks of the divine image in man may be clearly discerned, not in the form of his body, which goes to corruption, but in the prudence of his mind, in his righteousness, his self-control, his courage, his wisdom, his discipline, in fact, in the whole company of virtues; which exist in God essentially, and may exist in man as a result of his own efforts and his imitation of God, as the Lord points out in the gospel when he says; ‘Be ye merciful, as you Father is also is merciful,’ and, ‘Be ye perfect, as your Father is also perfect.’ Here we are clearly shown that in God all these virtues exist for ever and that they can never come to him or depart from him, whereas men acquire them gradually and one by one.
We see, therefore, that men have a kind of blood-relationship with God; and since God knows all things and not a single intellectual truth can escape his notice – for God the Father, with his only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit, stand alone in his knowledge not only of the things he has created but also of himself – it is possible that a rational mind also, by advancing from a knowledge of greater things and things visible to things invisible, may attain to and increasingly perfect understanding. For it has been placed in a body, and of necessity advances from things of sense, which are bodily, to things beyond sense of perception, which are incorporeal and intellectual. But in case it should appear mistaken to say as we have done that intellectual things are beyond sense perception we will quote as an illustration the saying of Solomon: ‘You will find also the divine sense.’ By this he shows that intellectual things are to be investigated not by bodily sense but by some other which he calls divine.
It is with this sense that each of the rational answers which we dealt with above must be perceived; with this sense that words we speak must be listened to and our writings pondered. For the divine nature knows even the silent thoughts which revolve in our minds. Our belief, therefore, on the questions dealt with herein, and on all that follows logically from them, must be framed in accordance with the principle explained above.