He made the ages who exists before the ages, of whom the divine David says: ‘From eternity and to eternity thou art;’ and the divine Apostle: ‘By whom also he made the ages.’
Now, one should note that the term age has several meanings, because it signifies a great many things. Thus, the span of life of every man is called an age. Again, a period of one thousand years is called an age. Still again, this whole present life is called an age, and so is the age without end to come after the resurrection. And again, that is called an age which is neither time nor any division of time measured by the course and motion of the sun—that is to say, made up of days and nights—but which is co-extensive with eternal things after the fashion of some sort of temporal period and interval. This kind of age is to eternal things exactly what time is to temporal things.
Now, this world is said to have seven ages, that is to say, from the creation of heaven and earth until the general consummation and resurrection of men. For, while there is a particular consummation, which is the death of each individual, there is also a general and final consummation which will come when the general resurrection of men takes place. The eighth age is that which is to come.
Before the framing of the world, when there was no sun to separate day from night, there was no measurable age, but only an age co-extensive with eternal things after the fashion of some sort of temporal period and interval. In this sense, there is one age in respect to which God is said to be of the ages, and, indeed, before the ages, for He made the very ages—since He alone is God without beginning and Himself creator both of the ages and of the things that are. When I speak of God, however, it is obvious that I mean the Father and His only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and His All-Holy Spirit—our one God.
We also speak of the ages of ages, inasmuch as the seven ages of the present world contain many ages, that is to say, generations of men, whereas there is one age containing all ages and which is called the age of ages—both present and future. Furthermore, the expressions ‘age-enduring life’ and ‘age-enduring chastisement’ show the eternity of the age to come. For, after the resurrection, time will not be numbered by days and nights at all; rather, there will be one day without evening, with the Sun of Justice shining brightly upon the just and a deep and endless night reserved for the sinners. How, then, will the time of Origen’s millennium be measured? God, therefore, is the one maker of the ages—He who also created all things and who exists before the ages.
Now, because the good and transcendentally good God was not content to contemplate Himself, but by a superabundance of goodness saw fit that there should be some things to benefit by and participate in His goodness, He brings all things from nothing into being and creates them, both visible and invisible, and man, who is made up of both. By thinking He creates, and, with the Word fulfilling and the Spirit perfecting, the object of His thought subsists.
He is the maker and creator of the angels. He brought them from nothing into being and made them after His own image into a bodiless nature, some sort of spirit, as it were, and immaterial fire—as the divine David says: ‘Who maketh his angels spirits: and his ministers a burning fire.’ And He determined their lightness, fieriness, heat, extreme acuity, their keenness in their desire for God and His service, and their being raised up and removed from every material consideration.
So, an angel is an intellectual substance, ever in motion, free, incorporeal, ministering to God, with the gift of immortality in its nature. And the form and the definition of this substance only the Creator understands. Now, compared with us, the angel is said to be incorporeal and immaterial, although in comparison with God, who alone is incomparable, everything proves to be gross and material for only the Divinity is truly immaterial and incorporeal.
So, the angel is of a nature which is rational, intelligent, free, and variable in judgment, that is, subject to voluntary change. It is only the Uncreated which is unchangeable. Also, every rational being is free. The angelic nature, then, in so far as it is rational and intelligent, is free; while, in so far as it is created, it is changeable and has the power to persevere and progress in good or to turn to evil.
Although man, by reason of the infirmity of his body, is capable of repentance, the angel, because of his incorporeality, is not.
The angel is immortal, not by nature, but by grace; for, naturally, everything that has beginning has an end, too. Only God is always existing—rather, transcends always, because He who made the times is not subject to time but transcends it.
The angels are secondary spiritual lights, who receive their brightness from that first Light which is without beginning. They have no need of tongue and hearing; rather, they communicate their individual thoughts and designs to one another without having recourse to the spoken word.
Now, all the angels were created by the Word and perfected by the sanctification of the Holy Ghost, and in accordance with their dignity and rank they enjoy brightness and grace.
The angels are circumscribed, because when they are in heaven they are not on earth, and when they are sent to earth by God they do not remain in heaven. However, they are not confined by walls or doors or bars or seals, because they are unbounded. I say that they are unbounded, because they do not appear exactly as they are to the just and to them that God wills them to appear to. On the contrary, they appear under such a different form as can be seen by those who behold them. Of course, only the Uncreated is by nature unbounded, for all creation is bounded by God who created it.
The angels do not receive their sanctification by the Spirit as something due their essence. It is by the grace of God that they prophesy. They have no need of marriage, precisely because they are not mortal.
Since they are intellects, they are in places intellectually and are not corporeally circumscribed. For by nature they do not have bodily shape and they are not extended in three dimensions; rather, they are present and act in space intellectually in whatsoever place they are commanded to do so, and they are not able to be present and act in different places at the same time.
Whether the angels are equal in essence or whether they differ from one another we do not know. Only God knows, who made them and knows all things. They do, however, differ from one another in brightness and station, either having their station in accordance with their brightness or enjoying their brightness in accordance with their station. They illuminate one another by the excellence of their rank or nature. Moreover, it is evident that the more excellent communicate their brightness and their knowledge to them that are inferior.
They are vigorous and prompt in the execution of the divine will and by a natural quickness they appear immediately in whatever place the divine pleasure may command. They watch over the parts of the earth and are set over nations and places in accordance with their disposition by the Creator. They direct our affairs and help us. Moreover, they are ever round about God for the very reason that in accordance with the divine will and command they are above us.
They are with difficulty moved towards evil, but they can be so moved. However, they cannot be moved toward evil—not because of their nature, but by grace and their diligent pursuit of the only Good.
They see God to such an extent as is possible for them, and this is their food.
Although, because they are incorporeal, they are superior to us and free of all bodily passion, they are certainly not passionless, because only the Divinity is passionless.
They take whatever form the Lord may command, and thus they appear to men and reveal the divine mysteries to them.
They live in heaven and have as their one work to sing the praises of God and minister to His sacred will.
As the most holy and sacred Dionysius the Areopagite, who is very well versed in theology, says, all theology, that is to say, sacred Scripture, has given the heavenly substances as nine in number. The divine initiator divides these into three orders of three. He says that the first of these is ever round about God and that to it has it been given to be united directly and immediately to Him. This is the order of the six-winged Seraphim and the many-eyed Cherubim and the most holy Thrones. The second order is that of the Dominations and the Virtues and the Powers. The third is that of the Principalities and the Archangels and the Angels.
Now, some say that the angels were made before all creation, as Gregory the Theologian says: ‘First He conceived the angelic and heavenly powers, and His conception was an accomplished work. But there are others who say that they were made after the creation of the first heaven. However, they all agree that it was before the formation of man. For my part, I agree with the Theologian, because it was fitting for the spiritual substance to be created first and then the sensible and then finally man himself, from both.
Moreover, if there is anyone who says that there is any kind of substance whatsoever that the angels can create, he is the mouthpiece of his father, the Devil. For, since they are creatures, they are not creators. He who made all things, provides for all, and sustains them is God, who alone is uncreated, who is praised and glorified in the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.
One of these angelic powers was chief of the terrestrial order and had been entrusted by God with the custody of the earth. Although he was not evil by nature, but good, and although he had been made for good and had in himself not the slightest trace of evil from the Creator, he did not keep the brightness and dignity which the Creator had bestowed upon him. By his free choice he turned from what was according to nature to what was against it. Having become stirred up against the God who created him and having willed to rebel against Him, he was the first to abandon good and become evil. For evil is no more than the privation of good, just as darkness is the absence of light. And good is spiritual light, while in the same way evil is spiritual darkness. Now, light was made by the Creator and it was good, for ‘God saw all the things which he had made, and they were very good,’ but darkness came by free will. And together with him a numberless horde of the angels that he had marshalled were torn away, and followed after him and fell. Hence, although they were of the same nature as the angels, they have become bad by freely turning from good to evil.
They have no power or strength against anyone, unless this be permitted them by the dispensation of God, as in the case of Job and as has been written in the Gospel about the swine. If God does give them permission, they have strength and change and transform themselves into whatever apparent form they may desire.
Neither the angels of God nor the evil spirits know the future. Nevertheless, they foretell it. The angels do so when God reveals the future to them and orders them to foretell it, for which reason whatever they say happens. On the other hand, the evil spirits foretell the future, sometimes by seeing the things that are to happen far ahead, and sometimes by guessing at them. For this reason one must not believe them, even though they may often speak the truth by the manner of which we have spoken. Moreover, they also know the Scriptures.
And so, all evil and the impure passions have been conceived by them and they have been permitted to visit attacks upon man. But they are unable to force anyone, for it is in our power either to accept the visitation or not. Wherefore, the unquenchable fire and everlasting torment have been prepared for the Devil and his evil spirits and for them who follow him.
One should note that the fall is to the angels just what death is to men. For, just as there is no repentance for men after their death, so is there none for the angels after their fall.
Our God, who is glorified in trinity and unity, Himself made heaven and earth, and all things that are in them. He brought all things from nothing into being: some, such as heaven, earth, air, fire, and water, from no pre-existing matter; and others, such as animals, plants and seeds, He made from those things which had their existence directly from Him. For, by the command of the Creator these last were made from earth, water, air, and fire.
The heavens are the outer shell which contains both visible and invisible created things. For, enclosed and contained within them are the spiritual powers, which are the angels, and all sensible things. Only the Divinity is uncircumscribed, filling, containing, and surrounding all things, because He transcends all things and it is He who has created all.
Now, since Scripture speaks of ‘heaven,’ the ‘heaven of heaven,’ and the ‘heavens of heavens, and says that the blessed Paul was caught up to the ‘third heaven,’ we say that in the creation of the universe we consider as heavens that which the pagan philosophers, making the teachings of Moses their own, call a starless sphere. And again, God called heaven the ‘firmament,’ which He ordered to be made in the midst of the water and so arranged that it was separated from the midst of the water above the firmament and from the midst of that which is below the firmament. Instructed by sacred Scripture, the divine Basil says that its substance is subtile like smoke, as it were. Others say that it is watery, because it was made in the midst of the waters. And others say that it is made from the four elements. Still others say that it is a fifth body and distinct from the four elements.
Furthermore, some have surmised that the heavens surround the universe and have the form of a sphere which is everywhere the highest point, while the centre of the space enclosed by it is the lowest point; and that the airier and lighter bodies have been assigned by the Creator to the higher positions, while the heavy and un-buoyant have been consigned to the lower, which is the centre. Now, the lightest and the most buoyant of the elements is fire, so they say that it comes directly below the heavens. They call it ether. Just below the ether comes the air. Earth and water, since they are heavier and less buoyant, are said to be hung in the midmost position, so that by contrast they are below. The water, however, is lighter than the earth whence its greater mobility. Everywhere above this, like a blanket, lies the encircling air; everywhere around the air is the ether; and on the outside encircling them all are the heavens.
Furthermore, they say that the heavens revolve and that they so bind together the things contained within that they stay firmly together and do not fall apart.
They say that the heavens have seven spheres, one above the other. They further say that the substance of the heavens is very subtile, like smoke, and that in each one of the spheres is one of the planets. For they have said that there are seven planets: the Sun, the Moon, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, Venus, and Saturn. Venus, they say, is sometimes the morning star and sometimes the evening star. They called them planets, or wanderers, because their motion is contrariwise to that of the heavens. For, while the heavens and the rest of the stars move from east to west, these alone have their motion from west to east. This we may know from the example of the moon, which moves back a little every evening.
Now, those who held that the heavens were spherical say that they are removed from the earth by an equal distance above, on the sides, and below. By ‘below’ and ‘on the sides’ I mean in so far as is apparent to our senses, because it logically follows that the heavens occupy the highest position at all points and the earth the lowest. They also say that the heavens surround the earth like a sphere and by their very rapid movement carry the sun, moon, and stars around with them. And they say that, when the sun is over the earth, then it is day here, while when it is under the earth, it is night; but when the sun goes down under the earth, then it is night here and day there.
Others, however, have imagined the heavens to have the form of a hemisphere, because the inspired David says: ‘Who stretchest out the heaven like a pavilion,’ which means a tent; and the blessed Isaias: ‘He that establisheth the heavens like a vault’; and because the sun, the moon, and the stars, when they set, go round the earth from west to north and thence return again to the east. However, whichever way it may be, all things have been made and established by the command of God and have their foundation in the divine will and desire. For he spoke, and they were made: he commanded and they were created. He hath established them for ever, and for ages of ages: he hath made a decree and it shall not pass away.
So there is a heaven of heaven, which is the first heaven and is above the firmament. But now, because God also called the firmament ‘heaven, there are two heavens. However, it is customary for sacred Scripture to call the air heaven, too, because of its being seen above, as it says: ‘O all ye fowls of the heaven, bless the Lord,’ meaning the air, although the air is not heaven but a medium of passage for the fowls. Here we have the three heavens of which the divine Apostle spoke. Then, if you want to take the seven spheres as seven heavens, there will still be nothing contrary to the Word of Truth. It is also customary in the Hebrew tongue to speak of heaven in the plural as heavens So, when Scripture meant to say ‘heaven of heaven,’ it said ‘heavens of heavens,’ which would mean precisely ‘heaven of heaven’—that which is over the firmament and the waters which are above the heavens, whether over the air and the firmament or over the seven spheres of the firmament, or over the firmament expressed in the plural as ‘heavens’ according to the Hebraic usage.
Now, all things which have a beginning are subject to corruption as a logical consequence of their nature, and the heavens are no exception. It is by the grace of God that they are held together and sustained. Only the Divinity is by nature without beginning and without end. For this reason was it said that: They shall perish but thou remainest.’ However, the heavens will not entirely disappear: Tor they shall perish, and they shall be changed as a vesture, and there will be a new heaven and a new earth.’
In size the heavens are much greater than the earth. Nevertheless, one must not inquire into the substance of the heavens, because we can know nothing about it.
Furthermore, let no one maintain that the heavens or the heavenly bodies are animate, for they are inanimate and without feeling. So, even though sacred Scripture says: ‘Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad,’ it is really calling upon the angels in heaven and the men on earth to rejoice. Of course, Scripture can personify inanimate things and talk about them as if they were alive, as for example: The sea saw and fled: Jordan was turned back,’ and: ‘What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou didst flee? and thou, O Jordan, that thou was turned back?’ and again: mountains and hills are asked the reason for their skipping. In just the same way it is customary for us to say that ‘the city was gathered together, not intending to mean the houses, but the occupants of the houses. Still again, ‘the heavens shew forth the glory of God’ not by speaking in voice audible to sensible ears, but by manifesting to us through their own greatness the power of the Creator, and when we remark their beauty, we give glory to their Maker as the best of all artificers.
Fire is one of the four elements. It is light and more buoyant than the others, and it both burns and gives light. It was made by the Creator on the first day, for sacred Scripture says: ‘And God said: Be light made. And light was made.’ According to what some say, fire is the same thing as light. Others speak of the cosmic fire above the air and they call it ether. ‘In the beginning,’ then, which is to say, on the first day, God made the light to adorn and enhance all visible creation. For, remove the light and everything will be in darkness and will be indistinguishable and incapable of displaying its inherent comeliness. ‘And God called the light day, and the darkness night.’ Darkness, moreover, is not a substance, but an accident, because it is the absence of light. For light is no part of the substance of the air. Hence, it was just the absence of light in the air that God called darkness; and darkness is not the substance of the air but the absence of light—which indicates an accident rather than a substance. Furthermore, it was not night that was called first, but day, so that day is first and night last. Accordingly, the night follows the day, and we have a period of a day and a night from the beginning of one day to that of the next—for Scripture says: ‘And there was evening and morning one day.’
And so, during those three days, day was made by the alternate diffusion and shutting out of the light at the divine command. On the fourth day God made the great luminary, the sun that is, to terminate and control the day. Thus it is that the day is determined by the sun, for, when the sun is above the earth it is day; and the duration of the day is that of the sun’s course over the earth from east to west. He made a lesser luminary, too—that is, the moon—and the stars to determine and control the night and give it light. Now, it is night when the sun is below the earth, and the duration of the night is that of the sun’s course underneath the earth from west to east. Thus, the moon and the stars have been set to light the night—but this does not mean that they are always under the earth during the daytime, for even in the daytime there are stars in the heavens over the earth. However, when the sun is shining at the same time as the stars and the moon, it dims them by its brighter radiance and keeps them from showing.
It was into these luminaries that the Creator put the primordial light, not that He was in want of any other light, but that that particular light might not remain idle. For the luminary is not the light itself, but its container.
They hold the seven planets to be of the number of these luminaries and they say that their motion is opposite to that of the heavens, for which reason they have been called planets, or wanderers. For it is said that the heavens move from east to west, whereas the planets move from west to east. And the heavens bear the seven planets around with themselves by their own more rapid motion, as it were. The names of the seven planets are as follows: Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Furthermore, it is said that there is one planet for each of the celestial spheres:
In the first, that is to say, the highest, Saturn.
In the second, Jupiter.
In the third, Mars.
In the fourth, the Sun.
In the fifth, Venus.
In the sixth, Mercury.
In the seventh and lowest, the Moon.
They follow the unceasing course set for them by the Creator according as He founded them, as the divine David says: ‘The moon and the stars which thou hast founded.’
By saying ‘founded’ he meant the stability and immutability of the order and succession given them by God. For He arranged them ‘for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years.’ It is by the Sun that the four solstices are determined. The first of these is the spring solstice, for it was at the spring solstice that God made all things, which is evident from the fact that even down to the present time the budding of the flowers takes place then. It is also called an equinoctial solstice, because both the day and the night are twelve hours long. It is determined by the mean rising of the sun. The spring is mild and promotes the growth of the blood, and it is warm and wet. It stands midway between winter and summer, being warmer and drier than winter and cooler and wetter than summer. This season extends from March  to June 24. Then, as the sun rises farther and farther to the north, the summer solstice follows. Summer stands midway between spring and autumn. From spring it has warmth and from autumn dryness, for it is hot and dry. It also promotes the growth of the yellow bile. The summer solstice has the longest day, fifteen hours long, while its night is very short indeed, being nine hours long. Summer extends from June 24 to September 25. Then, the sun comes back again to its mean rising, summer is succeeded by autumn, which has a sort of medium coolness and warmth, dryness and wetness. It stands midway between summer and winter and has its dryness from summer and its cold from winter, for it is by its nature cold and dry. It also promotes the growth of the black bile. This solstice is also equinoctial, both its day and its night being twelve hours long. Autumn extends from September 25 to December 25. Then, as the sun’s course becomes shorter and lower, that is to say, southerly, the winter solstice follows. Winter is cold and wet. It stands midway between autumn and spring and has its cold from autumn and its wetness from spring. The winter solstice has the shortest day, nine hours long, and the longest night, fifteen hours long. Moreover, winter promotes the growth of the phlegm, and extends from December 25 to March 21. Thus, the Creator made wise provision against our contracting serious sicknesses from passing from the extremes of cold, heat, wetness, or dryness to the opposite extremes for reason tells us that sudden changes are dangerous.
In this way, then, the sun produces the seasonal changes and, through them, the year. It also causes the days and nights: the former by rising and being over the earth, the latter by going down underneath the earth. By withdrawing, it causes the other luminaries to shine: the moon, that is, and the stars.
Now, they say that there are also twelve signs of the zodiac, made up of the stars in the heavens and having a motion contrary to that of the sun, the moon, and the five other planets, and that the seven pass through these twelve signs. Thus, the sun completes one month for each sign of the zodiac and in twelve months passes through the twelve signs. The following are the names of the twelve signs of the zodiac, and their months:
The sun enters Aries on March 21, Taurus on April 23, Gemini on May 24, Cancer on June 24, Leo on July 25, Virgo on August 25, Libra on September 25, Scorpio on October 25, Sagittarius on November 25, Capricorn on December 25, Aquarius on January 25, Pisces on February 24. The moon passes through the twelve signs of the zodiac every month, because it is lower and travels through them more rapidly. For, if you put one orbit within another, the inside one will be found to be smaller. Thus, because it is lower, the course of the moon is shorter and more quickly completed.
Now, the Greeks say that all our affairs are governed by the rising, setting, and conjunction of these stars and of the sun and moon. With such things is astrology concerned. But we say that, while they do give indications of rain and drought, cold and heat, wetness and dryness, winds, and the like, they give absolutely no indication of our actions. For we have been made free by the Creator and we control our own actions. But, if everything that we do is governed by the movement of the stars, then whatever we do we do by necessity. Now, what is done by necessity is neither virtue nor vice, and, if we have neither virtue nor vice, we deserve neither reward nor punishment. Hence, God will prove to be unjust when. He gives good things to some and tribulations to others. What is more, if all things are driven and moved by necessity, then God will not be exercising either control over His creatures or providence for them. Reason also will be useless to us, for, if we have no control over any of our actions, then it is useless for us to make our own resolves. But reason has been given to us so that we may deliberate, which is why every being that is rational is also free.
We say that the stars do not cause anything to happen, whether it be the production of things that are made, or events, or the destruction of things that are destroyed. Rather, they are signs of rains and atmospheric change. One might possibly say, however, that, although they do not cause wars either, they are signs of them; and that the condition of the atmosphere, which is determined by the sun, moon and stars, in various ways favors various temperaments, habits, and dispositions. Nevertheless, habits are something under our own control, for, in so far as they are subject to the reason, they may be controlled and cultivated by it.
And there are comets, too, which oftentimes appear as portents of the death of kings. They are not of the number of the stars which have existed from the beginning, but by the divine command they take form at just the right time and then are dissolved again. And neither was the star that was seen by the Magi at the time of the Lord’s gracious and saving birth according to the flesh for us one of those that drought, cold and heat, wetness and dryness, winds, and the like, they give absolutely no indication of our actions. For we have been made free by the Creator and we control our own actions. But, if everything that we do is governed by the movement of the stars, then whatever we do we do by necessity. Now, what is done by necessity is neither virtue nor vice, and, if we have neither virtue nor vice, we deserve neither reward nor punishment. Hence, God will prove to be unjust when. He gives good things to some and tribulations to others. What is more, if all things are driven and moved by necessity, then God will not be exercising either control over His creatures or providence for them. Reason also will be useless to us, for, if we have no control over any of our actions, then it is useless for us to make our own resolves. But reason has been given to us so that we may deliberate, which is why every being that is rational is also free.
We say that the stars do not cause anything to happen, whether it be the production of things that are made, or events, or the destruction of things that are destroyed. Rather, they are signs of rains and atmospheric change. One might possibly say, however, that, although they do not cause wars either, they are signs of them; and that the condition of the atmosphere, which is determined by the sun, moon and stars, in various ways favours various temperaments, habits, and dispositions. Nevertheless, habits are something under our own control, for, in so far as they are subject to the reason, they may be controlled and cultivated by it.
And there are comets, too, which oftentimes appear as portents of the death of kings. They are not of the number of the stars which have existed from the beginning, but by the divine command they take form at just the right time and then are dissolved again. And neither was the star that was seen by the Magi at the time of the Lord’s gracious and saving birth according to the flesh for us one of those that were made at the beginning. This is also evident from the fact that they make their course now from east to west, and now from north to south, and that they now disappear and now appear. For this is not in accord with the regularity and the nature of the stars.
One should note that the moon is lit by the sun. This is not because God was unable to give it its own light, but rather, that harmony and order might be imposed upon creation, with one ruling and another being ruled, and that we might be taught to have things in common with others, to share with them, and to be subject to them—first of all to the Maker and Creator, God and Lord, and then to them whom He has appointed to rule. Nor is it for me to inquire why this particular one rules; rather, I should thankfully and willingly accept all things that come from God.
The fact that the sun and moon suffer eclipse utterly refutes the folly of those who worship the creature rather than the Creator, and it shows that they are subject to change and variation. Now, anything that is subject to change is not God, for by its very nature it is subject to corruption and change.
The sun suffers eclipse when the mass of the moon, becoming like a sort of partition wall, casts a shadow and does not permit the light to get through to us. The extent of the eclipse, then, is proportionate to the amount of the mass of the moon concealing the sun. Now, even though the mass of the moon be smaller, do not be surprised, because, although it is maintained by some that the sun is many times larger than the earth, and by the holy Fathers that it is equal to the earth in size, it oftentimes is hidden by a small cloud, or even by a hillock or a wall.
The eclipse of the moon is brought about by the earth’s shadow, when the moon is fifteen days old and directly opposite at its highest point, the sun being below the earth and the moon above the earth. For the earth casts a shadow and the sunlight is unable to light the moon, so that it is eclipsed.
Moreover, one should know that the Creator made the moon as full in other words, as it is fifteen days old for it was fitting that it should be created in its most perfect state. However, as we said, the sun was created on the fourth day. Therefore, the moon was eleven days ahead of the sun, for from the fourth to the fifteenth there are eleven days. For this reason, the twelve lunar months have eleven days less than the twelve solar months every year. For the twelve solar months have 365 and a quarter days, whence the quarter accumulating through four years makes one full day, which is called bissextile and that year has 366 days. On the other hand, the lunar years have 354 days, because from the time of its nascency, or renewal, the moon waxes until it is fourteen and three quarters days old, and then it begins to wane and wanes until it is twenty-nine and a half days old and becomes entirely dark. Then, having again made contact with the sun, it is reborn, or renewed, thus giving a reminder of our own resurrection. Consequently, the moon is eleven days behind the sun every year. Therefore, the Hebrews have an intercalary month every third year, and that year has thirteen months by reason of the accumulation of the eleven days.
Moreover, it is evident that the sun, moon, and stars are composite, and by their very nature subject to corruption. However, we do not know their nature. Thus, some say that when fire is apart from any matter it is invisible, whereas others say that when it is quenched it is changed into air.
The belt of the zodiac moves obliquely and is divided into twelve sections which are called signs of the zodiac. The sign of the zodiac has three decans, which is thirty degrees. The degree has sixty minutes. Therefore, the heavens have 360 degrees, the hemisphere over the earth having 180 and that under the earth 180.
The house of Mars is Aries and Scorpio; that of Venus is Taurus and Libra; that of Mercury is Gemini and Virgo; that of the Moon is Cancer; that of the Sun is Leo; that of Jupiter is Sagittarius and Pisces; and that of Saturn is Capricorn and Aquarius.
Aries is the ascension of the Sun, Taurus that of the Moon, Cancer that of Jupiter, Virgo that of Mars, Libra that of Saturn, Capricorn that of Mercury, and Pisces that of Venus.
The moon is in conjunction when it is in the same degree as the sun. It is nascent when it is fifteen degrees distant from the sun. It is twice rising when it is sixty degrees distant and appears in the form of a crescent. It is twice half full when it is ninety degrees distant. It is twice near full and nearly fully lighted when it is 150 degrees distant. It is full when it is 180 degrees distant. It is twice gibbous when it is 120 degrees distant. And when we say that the moon is in a phase twice, we mean once when waxing and once when waning. It takes the moon two and one half days to pass through each sign of the zodiac.
Air is a very subtile element and is both wet and warm. It is heavier than fire, but lighter than earth and water. It is the cause of breath and voice. It is colorless, that is to say it has no color by nature. It is clear and transparent, for it is receptive of light. It also serves three of our senses, since by it we see, hear, and smell. It can be heated or cooled, dried or made wet. All of its movements are local motion upward, downward, inward, outward, to the right, to the left, and in a circle.
It does not have light from itself but gets it from the sun, the moon, the stars, and fire. This is what Scripture meant when it said that ‘darkness was upon the face of the deep,’ intending to show that the air does not have light from itself, but that the substance of light is something else.
Wind is a movement of the air. Or again, wind is a current of air which takes various names after the various places from which it flows.
Air has its place, too. For the place of any body is its containing boundary. And what contains bodies, unless it be the air? There are, moreover, various places from which the movement of the air comes and after which the winds take their names. These are twelve altogether. And they say that the air is quenched fire, or that it is vapour from hot water. At any rate, air is of its own nature warm. It is, however, cooled by proximity to water and the earth, so that its lower portions are cool, while its upper portions are warm.
The wind blows as follows: from the northeast, Gaecias, which is also called Meses; from the east, Apeliotes; from the southeast, Eurus; from the southwest, Lips; from the west, Zephyr; from the northwest, Argestes or Olympias, which is also called Japyx; then Notus, the south wind, and Aparctias, the north wind, blow in directions opposite to each other; and midway between Aparctias and Caecias is Boreas; midway between Eurus and Notus is Phoenix, which is called Euronotus; midway between Notus and Lips is Libonotus, which is also called Leuconotus; and midway between Arpactias and Argestes is Thrascias, or Gercius, as it is called by the local inhabitants.
(The races that inhabit the extreme confines are: to the east, the Bactrians; to the southeast, the Indians; to the south-southeast lie the Red Sea and Ethiopia; to the south-southwest, the Garamantes, who dwell beyond Syria; to the southwest, the Ethiopians and the West Moors; to the west lie the Pillars of Hercules and the confines of Lybia and Europe; to the northwest, Iberia, which is now called Spain; to the north-northwest, the Celts and bordering nations; to the north, the Scythians, who dwell beyond Thrace; to the north-northeast, Pontus, Maeotia, and the Sarmatians; to the northeast, the Caspian Sea and the Sacae.)
Water is also one of the four elements and a most admirable creation of God. Water is a wet and cold element which is heavy and unbouyant and which is fluid. Sacred Scripture refers to it when it says: ‘And darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved over the waters,’ for the deep is nothing else but a great quantity of water. In the beginning, then, water covered the whole earth. And first God made the firmament that ‘divided the waters that were above the firmament, from those that were under the firmament,’ for in the midst of the abyss of waters it was made firm by the Lord’s command. Thus, God said for a firmament also to be made, and it was made. Why did God put water over the firmament? Because of the burning heat of the sun and the ether. For the ether is spread immediately under the firmament, and the sun and moon and stars are in the firmament; if water did not lie over it, the firmament would be burnt up by the heat.
Then God ordered the waters to be gathered together into one place. Now, the fact that Scripture speaks of one gathering does not mean that they were gathered together into one place, for notice that after this it says: ‘And the gathering together of the waters he called seas. Actually, the account meant that the waters were segregated by them-selves apart from the earth. And so the waters were brought together into their gathering places and the dry land appeared. Thence came the two seas which surround Egypt, for Egypt lies between two seas. Various seas are gathered together, having mountains, islands, capes, and harbours, and bordering upon various bays, beaches and headlands. The sandy shore is called a beach, but the rocky and precipitous shore that extends directly into deep water is called a head-land. Thence, also, in the same way were gathered together that sea to the east which is called the Indian, and that to the north called the Caspian, and the lakes.
Then there is the ocean which encircles the entire earth like a sort of river and to which it seems to me that Scripture referred when it said that ‘a river went out of the place of pleasure.’ It has a sweet potable water and supplies the seas, but because the water remains stagnant in the seas for a long time it becomes brackish. The sun and the water-spouts are constantly drawing up the less dense water and from this the clouds are formed and the rains come, the water becoming sweet by filtration.
This ocean is divided into four heads, or four rivers. The name of the first is Phison; this is the Ganges of India. The name of the second is Gehon; this is the Nile which comes down from Ethiopia into Egypt. The name of the third is Tigris, and of the fourth, Euphrates. There are also a great many other very large rivers, of which some empty into the sea, while others are absorbed into the earth. This is why the whole earth is porous and undermined, as if it had some sort of veins through which it receives water from the sea and sends it up in springs. The quality of the water of the springs corresponds with that of the earth, for, although the sea water is strained and filtered through the earth and thus is made sweet, yet, if the place from which the spring gushes happens to be bitter or salty, the water will come up like the earth. Moreover, the water is oftentimes compressed and then bursts forth violently and becomes heated. This is the cause of the natural hot springs.
And so, by the divine command hollow places were made in the earth. Thus it was that the waters were brought together into their gathering places, and this is the cause of the mountains being made. Then God commanded the first-made water to bring forth life, because it was His intention to renew man by water and by that Holy Spirit which was borne over the waters in the beginning, which is what the divine Basil said. And it brought forth living things both small and great whales, dragons, fish swimming in the waters, and winged fowl.’ Now, it is through the winged fowl that the water, earth, and air meet, for they were made from the water, they busy themselves upon the earth, and they fly in the air. Water is a most admirable element and has many uses, and it cleanses from filth, not only the bodily kind but the spiritual as well, provided the grace of the Spirit is added to it.
(The Aegean Sea empties into the Hellespont, which ends at Abydus and Sestus. Then comes the Propontis, which ends at Chalcedon and Byzantium. There the straits are which lead into the Black Sea, beyond which is Lake Maeotis. And again, at the confines of Europe and Lybia there is the Iberian Sea, which extends from the Pillars of Hercules to the Pyrenees. Then comes the Ligurian Sea, which extends as far as the limits of Etruria; then the Sardinian Sea extending from above Sardinia down toward Libya; and the Tyrrhenian Sea beginning at the limits of Liguria and ending at Sicily; then the Sea of Libya, then that of Crete, and that of Sicily, and the Ionian Sea, and the Adriatic, which flows out of the Sea of Sicily and which is called the Gulf of Corinth or the Alcyonian Sea. That between Sunium and Scyllaeum is the Saronic Sea. Then comes the Sea of Myrtos, and the Icarian Sea, in which are the Cyclades; then the Carpathian, the Pamphylian, and the Egyptian Seas. And beyond the Icarian Sea the Aegean extends on. The coastline of Europe from the mouth of the Tanais River 9 to the Pillars of Hercules is 69,709 stades long. That of Libya from Tingis to the Ganobic mouth of the Nile is 29,252 stades long. And that of Asia from Ganobus to the Tanais River is 40,111 stades long, including the bays. Altogether the seaboard of our inhabited world, including the bays, is 139,072 stades long. 11 )
Earth is one of the four elements. It is dry and cold, heavy and inert, and it was brought from nothing into being by God on the first day. For ‘in the beginning,’ it says, ‘God created heaven and earth.’ What its seat and foundation is no man has been able to tell. Some say that It was set upon the waters and made fast, because the divine David says: ‘Who established the earth above the waters.’ Others say upon the air. Still another says: ‘He hangeth the earth upon nothing.’ And again the prophet David, speaking as in the person of the Creator, says: ‘I have established the pillars thereof,’ calling His sustaining power pillars. However, the assertion that ‘he hath founded it upon the seas’ makes it plain that the substance of water was poured round the earth on every side. But, whether we hold the earth to have been set upon itself, or upon air, or upon water, or upon nothing, we must not depart from the principles of religion and we must confess that all things are sustained and held together by the power of the Creator.
In the beginning, then, as sacred Scripture says, the earth was covered by the waters and was empty, that is to say, unadorned. But at God’s command the receptacles for the waters were made. Then the mountains came into being and by the divine command the earth assumed its natural beauty and was adorned with every sort of verdure and plant. In these last the divine command implanted the power to grow, to absorb nourishment, and to seed, that is, to reproduce their kind. Then at the Creator’s command there came forth every sort of animal: creeping things, and wild beasts, and cattle. Everything was for the suitable use of man. Of the animals, some were for food, such as deer, sheep, gazelles, and the like; some for work, such as camels, oxen, horses, asses, and the like; still others for diversion, such as monkeys and such birds as magpies, parrots, and the like. Of the plants and herbs, some were fruit-bearing and some edible, and some, such as the rose and the like, were fragrant and flowering and were given us for our enjoyment; and still others were given us for the curing of diseases. For there is no animal or plant in which the Creator has not put some virtue that is of use for the needs of man. He knew all things before they were made and He saw that man in his freedom would fall and be given over to corruption; yet for man’s suitable use He made all the things that are in the sky and on the earth and in the water.
Before the fall, all things were subject to the control of man, because God had made him ruler over all the things on the earth and in the water. And the serpent was on intimate terms with man, associating with him more than all the rest and conversing agreeably with him. For that reason it was through it that the Devil, who is the source of evil, made that most evil suggestion to our first parents. At that time the earth brought forth of itself fruits for the use of the animals that were subject to man, and there were neither violent rains upon the earth nor wintry storms. But, after the fall, ‘when he was compared to senseless beasts, and was become like to them,’ and when he had caused the unreasoning desire within himself to prevail over his rational intellect and had become disobedient to the commandment of the Lord, then the creation subject to him rose up against this ruler appointed by the Creator, and he was ordered to work in the sweat of his face the earth from which he had been taken.
Nevertheless, the usefulness of the wild beasts is not even now past, because by exciting fear they bring man to recognise the God who made them and to call upon Him for help. Furthermore, after the fall, thorns grew out of the earth, as the Lord had declared. Later, the thorn was joined to the sweetness of the rose to remind us of that fall on account of which the earth had been condemned to bring forth thorns and thistles for us.
Indeed, that such is the case is credible from the fact that their continuance is being assured down to the present time by those words spoken by the Lord when He said: ‘Increase and multiply and fill the earth.’
Some say that the earth is spherical in form; others, that it is conical. It is lower than the heavens, and much smaller, being hung like a small point at their centre. And it will pass away and be changed. Blessed is he who inherits the earth of the meek, for the earth which is to receive the saints is unending. Who, then, could sufficiently admire the boundless and incomprehensible wisdom of the Creator? Or who could adequately thank the Giver of good things?
(There are, furthermore, the known provinces of the earth, or satrapies, of which Europe has thirty-four, and the great continent of Asia forty-eight, and twelve canons.)
Since God intended to fashion man after His own image and likeness from the visible and invisible creation to be a sort of king and ruler over the whole earth and the things in it, He prepared a sort of kingdom for him, in which he might dwell and lead a blessed and blissful life. And this divine paradise prepared in Eden by the hands of God was a treasure house of every joy and pleasure. For ‘Eden is interpreted as meaning ‘delight.’ It was situated in the east and was higher than all the rest of the earth. It was temperate in climate and bright with the softest and purest of air. It was luxuriant with ever-blooming plants, filled with fragrance, flooded with light, and surpassing all conception of sensible fairness and beauty. In truth, it was a divine place and a worthy habitation for God in His image. And in it no brute beasts dwelt, but only man, the handiwork of God.
In its midst God planted a tree of life and a tree of knowledge. He planted the tree of knowledge as a sort of trial, test, and exercise of man’s obedience and disobedience. It is either for this reason that it has been called the tree of knowledge of good and evil, or because it gave to them that partook of it the power to know their own nature which, while it is good for the perfect, is bad for them that are less perfect and more given to their desires, as strong meat is to them that are tender and still in need of milk. For God who created us did not want us to be ‘careful and troubled about many things,’ nor to be anxious and concerned for our own life which is just what happened to Adam. Thus, after he had eaten, he became aware of the fact that he was naked and put an apron around himself. For he took fig leaves and girded himself, although before they had eaten ‘they were both naked, to wit, Adam and Eve, and they were not ashamed.’ God wanted us to be dispassionate like that, for that is passionlessness to the highest degree. And He also wanted us to be free from care and to have but one task, that of the angels, which is unceasingly and unremittingly to sing the praises of the Creator and to rejoice in contemplating Him. He also wanted us to cast our cares upon Him, which is just what He told us through the Prophet David, saying: ‘Cast thy care upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.’ In the Gospels, too, when teaching His own disciples, He says: ‘Be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on’ ; and again: ‘Seek ye the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you’ ; and to Martha : ‘Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her,’ namely, to sit at His feet and hear His words. The tree of life was either a tree possessing a life-giving force or a tree that was to be eaten of only by such as were worthy of life and not subject to death. Some have imagined paradise to have been material, while others have imagined it to have been spiritual. However, it seems to me that, just as man was created both sensitive and intellectual, so did this most sacred domain of his have the twofold aspect of being perceptible both to the senses and to the mind. For, while in his body he dwelt in this most sacred and superbly beautiful place, as we have related, spiritually he resided in a loftier and far more beautiful place. There he had the indwelling God as a dwelling place and wore Him as a glorious garment. He was wrapped about with His grace, and, like some one of the angels, he rejoiced in the enjoyment of that one most sweet fruit which is the contemplation of God, and by this he was nourished. Now, this is indeed what is fittingly called the tree of life, for the sweetness of divine contemplation communicates a life uninterrupted by death to them that partake of it. It is just this that God meant by ‘every tree’ when He said : Of every tree of paradise thou shalt eat.’ For He is the all, in whom and by whom the universe endures.
The tree of knowledge of good and evil is the power of discernment by multiple vision, and this is the complete knowing of one’s own nature. Of itself it manifests the magnificence of the Creator and it is good for them that are full grown and have walked in the contemplation of God for them that have no fear of changing, because in the course of time they have acquired a certain habit of such contemplation. It is not good, however, for such as are still young and are more greedy in their appetites, who, because of the uncertainty of their perseverance in the true good and because of their not yet being solidly established in their application to the only good, are naturally inclined to be drawn away and distracted by their solicitude for their own bodies.
It is in such a way that I think that the divine paradise was of a twofold nature, and the inspired Fathers taught rightly, both those who taught the one aspect and those who taught the other. Moreover, it is possible to take ‘every tree’ as meaning the knowledge of the divine power which comes from the things that have been created, as the divine Apostle says: ‘For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.’ Of all these thoughts and considerations, the loftiest are those which concern ourselves—which concern our constitution, I mean, as the divine David says: ‘Thy knowledge from myself is become wonderful,’ 12 that is to say, ‘from my own make-up.’ In the newly made Adam, however, this was dangerous—for the reasons we have stated. Again, the tree of life may be taken as the greater understanding of God that comes from all material things, and the process of induction leading from these to the productive and creative cause of them all. And it is just this that is called ‘every tree,’ the whole and undivided tree that brings the only participation in the Good. And by the tree of knowledge of good and evil may be understood that material and enjoyable food which, while seeming to be sweet, actually makes the partaker to be a partaker of evil. For God says: ‘Of every tree of paradise thou shalt eat,’ meaning, I think: By means of all created things be thou drawn up to Me, their Creator, and from them reap the one fruit which is Myself, who am the true life; let all things be fruitful life to thee and make participation in Me to be the substance of thy own existence; for thus thou shalt be immortal. ‘But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat. For in what day soever thou shalt eat of it, thou shall die the death.’ For it is of the nature of material food to replace that which has been consumed., and it is voided into the privy and so to corruption. And it is impossible for him who partakes of material food to remain incorruptible.
Thus, then, God created the intellectual substance. By that I mean angels and all the heavenly orders, for these quite plainly have an intellectual and incorporeal nature. When I say incorporeal, I mean incorporeal in comparison with the grossness of matter, for only the Divinity is really immaterial and incorporeal. Besides this, He also created the material substance, that is to say, the heavens and the earth and the things that lie between them. The former of these substances is akin to Him, for the rational nature which can only be grasped by the intellect is akin to God; while the latter, in so far as it is manifestly perceptible to the senses, is very very far removed from Him. ‘But, as a mark of greater wisdom and of His munificence toward created natures, it was also necessary that a combination of both substances should be made,’ as the inspired Gregory says, ‘as a sort of bond between the visible and invisible natures.’ The phrase ‘it was necessary,’ I say, implies the intention of the Creator, for this intention is a most fit law and ordinance. Thus, no one will ask the moulder: ‘Why did you make me like this?’—for the potter has the power to make different vessels from the same lump of clay in accordance with the dictates of his own wisdom.
Since this was the case, with His own hands He created man after His own image and likeness from the visible and invisible natures. From the earth He formed his body and by His own inbreathing gave him a rational and understanding soul, which last we say is the divine—image for the ‘according to His image’ means the intellect and free will, while the ‘according to His likeness means such likeness in virtue as is possible.
The body and the soul were formed at the same time—not one before and the other afterwards, as the ravings of Origen would have it.
And so God made man innocent, straightforward, virtuous, free from pain, free from care, ornamented with every virtue, and adorned with all good qualities. He made him a sort of miniature world within the larger one, another adoring angel, a compound, an eye-witness of the visible creation, an initiate of the invisible creation, lord of the things of earth, lorded over from on high, earthly and heavenly, passing and immortal, visible and spiritual, halfway between greatness and lowliness, at once spirit and flesh spirit by grace and flesh by pride, the first that he might endure and give glory to his Benefactor, and the second that he might suffer and by suffering be reminded and instructed not to glory in his greatness. He made him a living being to be governed here according to this present life, and then to be removed elsewhere, that is, to the world to come, and so to complete the mystery by becoming divine through reversion to God this—however, not by being transformed into the divine substance, but by participation in the divine illumination.
He moreover made him sinless and endowed with freedom of will. By being sinless I do not mean being incapable of sinning, for only the Divinity is incapable of sinning, but having the tendency to sin not in his nature but, rather, in his power of choice—that is to say, having the power to persevere and progress in good with the help of divine grace, as well as having the power to turn from virtue and fall into vice, God permitting because of the freedom of the will. For, that which is done by force is not an act of virtue.
Now, a soul is a living substance, simple and incorporeal, of its own nature invisible to bodily eyes, activating an organic body in which it is able to cause life, growth, sensation, and reproduction. It does not have the mind as something distinct from itself, but as its purest part, for, as the eye is to the body, so is the mind to the soul. It is free, endowed with will and the power to act, and subject to change, that is, subject to change of will, because it is also created. And this it has received according to nature, through that grace of the Creator by which it has also received both its existence and its being naturally as it is.
[In how many ways a thing may be said to be incorporeal]
Things that are incorporeal, invisible and without shape we conceive of in two ways. Some are so by essence and some by grace; some are so by nature and some by comparison with the grossness of matter. Thus, God is said to be incorporeal by nature, but the angels, evil spirits, and souls are said to be so by grace and by comparison with the grossness of matter.
A body is three-dimensional, that is, having height, breadth, and depth or thickness. Every body is composed of the four elements, but the bodies of living things are composed of the four humours.
One should note that the four elements are: earth, which is dry and cold; water, which is cold and wet; air, which is wet and warm; and fire, which is warm and dry. Likewise, there are also four humours corresponding to the four elements: black bile, which corresponds to the earth, because it is dry and cold; phlegm, which corresponds to the water, because it is cold and wet; blood, which corresponds to the air, because it is wet and warm ; yellow bile, which corresponds to fire, because it is warm and dry. Now, while fruits are made from the elements, the humours are made from the fruits, and the bodies of living things are made from the humours and are reducible to the elements, for every compound is reducible to them.
[That man has something in common with the inanimate the irrational, and the rational beings]
One should note that man has something in common with inanimate things, that he shares life with the rational living beings, and that he shares understanding with the rational. In common with inanimate things, he has his body and its composition from the four elements. In common with the plants, he has these same things plus the power of assimilating nourishment, of growing and of semination of generation. In common with the brute beasts, he has all these plus appetite—that is to say, anger and desire—sensation, and spontaneous movement.
Now, the senses are five; namely, sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Belonging to spontaneous movement are the power of moving from place to place, that of moving the entire body, and that of speech and breathing—for in us we have the power either to do these things or not to do them.
Through his power of reason man is akin to the incorporeal and intellectual natures, reasoning, thinking, judging each thing, and pursuing the virtues, particularly the acme of the virtues which is religion. For this reason, man is also a microcosm.
One should note that section, flux, and change are proper to the body alone. Change is that which is in quality, such as being heated, cooled, and so forth. Flux is an emptying out, for solids, liquids, and the breath are voided and then need to be replaced. Consequently, hunger and thirst are natural sensations. Section is the separation of the humours from one another and the division into matter and form.
Proper to the soul are religion and understanding. Although the virtues are referred to the soul, yet, in so far as the soul utilizes the body, they are common to both.
One should note that the rational part of the soul governs the irrational part. Indeed, the faculties of the soul are divided into those belonging to its rational part and those belonging to its irrational part. There are two groups belonging to the irrational part, of which one is deaf to reason, that is to say, does not obey the reason, whereas the other listens to the reason and complies with it. Now, deaf and disobedient to reason are the vital principle, which is also called pulsating, the seminal or generative principle, and the vegetable principle, which is also called nutritive and to which also belongs the principle of growth that builds up the body. For these are governed not by reason but by nature. The group listening to reason and complying with it is divided into anger and desire. Moreover, the irrational part of the soul is commonly called emotional and appetitive. And one should know that the faculty of spontaneous movement is one of those which are obedient to reason.
To those which are not obedient to reason belong the nutritive, the generative, and the pulsating principles. The growing, nutritive, and generative principles are called vegetable; the pulsating is called vital.
The nutritive principle has four faculties: the attractive, which attracts the food; the retentive, which retains the food and does not permit it to be excreted immediately; the transformative, which changes the food into the humours; and the excretive, which separates the superfluity and expels it through the rectum.
One should note that some of the faculties in the living being are animal, some vegetable, and some vital. The animal faculties are those which depends upon choice; namely, spontaneous movement and sense. To spontaneous movement belong moving from place to place, moving the entire body, speaking, and breathing, for it is in our power either to do them or not. Vegetable and vital faculties are those which do not depend upon choice. The nutritive, growing, and generative faculties are vegetable, while the pulsating faculty is vital. These all operate regardless of whether we want them to or not.
Furthermore, one must note that some things are good and others evil. Now, when a good thing is expected, it gives rise to desire, but when it is present it causes pleasure. Similarly, when a bad thing is expected, it gives rise to fear, but when it is present it causes pain. One must also understand that, when we say ‘good’ here, we mean both that which is really good and that which is apparently so, and similarly, when we say ‘bad.’
Some pleasures are of the soul, while others are of the body. Of the soul are all those which belong to the soul alone as distinct from the body, such as those coming from learning and contemplation. Bodily pleasures are those which are shared by the soul and the body. For this reason, all those coming from eating, sexual intercourse, and the like, are called bodily. However, one would not find any pleasures belonging to the body alone.
Again, some pleasures are true, whereas others are false. Some pleasures, also, which come from knowledge and contemplation, are purely intellectual; others, arising from sensation, are shared by the body. Of the pleasures shared by the body, some are both natural and necessary. Without these it would be impossible to live; such are food eaten to supply a deficiency, and necessary clothes. Still others are natural but not necessary, such as natural and legitimate sexual relations. For, although these last do assure the permanency of the entire race, it is nevertheless possible to live in virginity without them. Still others are neither necessary nor natural, such as intoxicating liquors, lewdness, and surfeits that exceed our needs. These do nothing for the maintenance of our life or for perpetuation of the race; on the contrary, they do harm. Hence, he who lives according to God must seek those pleasures which are both necessary and natural, while those which are natural but not necessary he must relegate to second place and only indulge in them as permitted by the suitability of time, manner, and moderation. The others, however, must be absolutely rejected.
Such pleasures may be considered to be good as do not involve pain, cause remorse, do any damage, exceed the limits of moderation, distract us for long from good works, or enslave us.
There are four kinds of pain; namely, grief, distress, envy, and compassion. Grief is a pain which makes one speechless; distress is one which oppresses; envy is one arising from another’s good fortune; and compassion is one arising from another’s misfortune.
Fear also has its divisions, which are six; namely, apprehension, diffidence, shame, terror, consternation, and anxiety. Apprehension is fear of something which is going to happen. Diffidence is a fear due to an expected reproach, and this is an excellent affection. Shame is a fear due to the perpetra-
tion of a shameful act, nor is this beyond hope of salvation. Terror is a fear arising from a strong mental impression. Consternation is a fear arising from an unaccustomed mental impression. Anxiety is a fear of failure, that is to say, of misfortune—for when we are afraid that our undertaking will turn out badly, we are anxious.
Anger is a seething of the blood about the heart caused by the fuming up or thickening of the bile. For this reason, it is also called bile or spleen. There is also a kind of anger which is a desire for revenge, for when we are wronged or think that we have been wronged, we are pained and there arises in us that combined feeling of desire and anger.
There are three kinds of anger; namely, wrath (which is called bile and spleen), rancour, and vindictiveness. When anger arises and starts to move, it is called wrath, bile, and spleen. Rancour is an enduring wrath, or bearing malice. It is called μῆνις from its μἑνειν, or remaining, and being impressed upon the memory. Vindictiveness is wrath on the watch for an opportunity for revenge. It is called κὀτος from κεῖσθαι or being laid down.
Anger is the spearman of the reason and the avenger of desire. Thus, when we desire a thing and are thwarted by someone, our reason decides that for such as would maintain their own natural position this occurrence is worthy of vexation, and we get angry at him over our having been wronged.
The imagination is the faculty belonging to the irrational part of the soul. It acts through the sense organs and is called a sensation. Moreover, that which comes within the province of the imagination and the senses is the imaginative and the sensible, just as the visible—say, a stone or something of the sort—comes within the province of sight, which is the power of vision. An imagination, or fantasy, is an affection of the irrational part of the soul arising from some imaginable object. But an imagining, or phantasm, is an empty affection arising in the irrational parts of the soul from no imaginable object at all. The organ of the imagination is the anterior ventricle of the brain.
Sense is a faculty of the soul by which material things are perceived, or distinguished. The sense organs are the organs or members by means of which we perceive. Sensible things are those which come within the province of the senses. The animal endowed with sense is sensitive. There are five senses and, likewise, five sense organs.
The first sense is that of sight. The sense organs or media of sight are the nerves leading from the brain and the eyes. Fundamentally, it is the visual impression of colour that is received, but along with the colour the sight distinguishes the coloured body, also: its size and shape, the place where it is and the intervening distance, its number, its motion or motionlessness, its roughness or smoothness, its evenness or uneven- ness, sharpness or bluntness, and whether it has the consistency of water or that of earth; in other words, whether it is liquid or solid.
The second sense is that of hearing. This is capable of discerning voices and sounds, of which it distinguishes the high or low pitch, the degree of smoothness, and the volume. Its organs are the soft nerves leading from the brain and the apparatus of the ears. Moreover, only man and the monkey do not move their ears.
The third sense is that of smell which originates with the nose sending the odours up to the brain and is terminated at the extremities of the anterior ventricles of the brain. The sense of smell is capable of discerning and perceiving odours. The most general division of odours is into sweet-smelling and foul-smelling and that which stands midway between these and is neither the one nor the other. Thus, a sweet smell arises when the juices in bodies have been cooked to a nicety. When they have been cooked middling well, the result is middling. But when they have been very poorly or incompletely cooked, then there is a foul smell.
The fourth sense is that of taste. This sense is capable of perceiving or discerning flavours. Its organs are the tongue—especially its tip—and the palate, which some call the roof [of the mouth]. The nerves leading from the brain have been broadened out in these and report back to the authoritative part of the soul the impression or sensation received. The so-called taste qualities or flavours are as follows: sweetness, bitterness, acidity, sourness, tartness, pungency, saltiness, greasiness, and stickiness. For it is these that the sense of taste can distinguish. Water, however, in so far as these qualities are concerned, is tasteless, because it has none of them. Sourness is an intense and excessive tartness.
The fifth sense is that of touch which is common to all animals. It comes from the nerves leading out from the brain into the entire body, for which reason both the entire body and the other sense organs, too, possess the sense of touch. Subject to touch are heat and cold, softness and hardness, stickiness and friability, and heaviness and lightness, because these things are recognised only by the sense of touch. Common to both the sense of touch and that of sight are: roughness and smoothness; dryness and wetness; thickness and thinness; up and down; place; size, whenever it is such as can be determined with one application of the sense of touch; compactness and looseness, or density; roundness, if on a small scale, and various other shapes. Similarly, with the aid of the memory and the understanding, it can also perceive the approach of a body, as well as number, too, up to two or three, provided the objects be small and easily grasped. Sight, however, is more perceptive of these than is touch.
One should note that the Creator constructed each one of the sense organs in pairs, so that, should one be harmed,, the other might fulfil the function. Thus, there are two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and two tongues. These last, however, while they are separate in some animals, such as snakes, in others, such as man, are joined together. On the other hand, the sense of touch is in the entire body, with the exception of the bones, nerves, nails and horns, hair, sinews, and certain other parts of the same sort.
One should note that sight sees along straight lines, but that smell and hearing get their impressions not only along straight lines, but from all directions. Touch and taste, however, get their impressions neither along straight lines nor along any line, but only when their proper organs are in contact with their objects.
To the thinking faculty belong judgments, assents, inclinations and disinclinations to act, and avoidances of action. In particular, concepts of intellectual things, the virtues and sciences, the principles of the arts, and the deliberative and elective powers belong to the thinking faculty. It is also this faculty which foretells the future to us through dreams, which the Pythagoreans, following in the steps of the Hebrews, claim to be the only true divination. The organ of this faculty is the middle ventricle of the brain and the vital spirit residing therein.
The faculty of memory is both the cause and the repository of memory and recollection. Memory is an image which has been left behind by some sensory or mental impression that has actually been received. In other words, it is the retention of sensation and thought. Thus, on the one hand, the soul apprehends or senses sensible objects through the organs of sense, and a mental impression is formed; on the other hand, it apprehends intellectual objects through the mind and a conjecture is formed. Hence, when it retains the forms of things of which it has received impressions, or of things of which it has thought, then it is said to remember.
One must note that the apprehension of intellectual things comes only through learning, or the natural process of thinking. It does not come from sensation, because sensible things are remembered in themselves, whereas intellectual things we do remember, provided we have learned something of them, but of their substance we have no memory.
Recollection is the recovery of memory that has been lost by forgetting, and forgetting is the loss of memory. When the imaginative faculty has apprehended material things by means of the senses, it communicates [the impression] to the thinking faculty, or reasoning faculty for both of these are the same thing. When this faculty has received the impression and formed a judgment of it, it passes it on to the faculty of memory. The organ of the faculty of memory is the posterior ventricle of the brain, which is also called the cerebellum, and the vital spirit residing therein.
The speaking (or rational) part of the soul is again divided into mental and spoken speech. Mental speech is a movement of the soul made in its reasoning faculty without any vocal expression. Thus, we oftentimes go silently through an entire discourse in detail, and we converse in our dreams. In this respect we are all speaking (or rational) in the most proper sense. For, certainly, those who have been born dumb or who have lost their voice through some illness or accident are by no means less rational. Spoken speech acts through the voice and language, that is to say, it is the speech which is spoken by means of the tongue and mouth. For this reason it is said to be spoken. It is, moreover, the messenger of thought. In respect to this faculty we are also said to be talking.
The term passion is equivocal, because, while it may refer to the body, as in the case of sickness and sores, it may also refer to the soul, as with desire or anger. In its common and general sense, however, it means an animal passion such as is followed by pleasure or pain. Now, pain does follow passion, but pain is not the passion itself, because insensible things, when they suffer, do not feel pain. Thus, then, pain is not passion but the feeling of passion. This passion, moreover, must be considerable, that is to say, so intense as to come within the province of sensation.
The definition of the passions of the soul is as follows: passion is a movement of the appetitive faculty which is felt as a result of a sensory impression of good or evil. It may also be defined in another way: passion is an irrational movement of the soul due to an impression of good or evil. Thus, the impression of good arouses the desire, whereas that of evil arouses the anger. Passion in the general or common sense is defined thus: passion is a movement in one thing caused by another. But action is an active movement, that being called active which moves of itself. Hence, when one is driven violently into action by anger, this anger is, on the one hand, an action of the irascible part of the soul; on the other, it is a passion of both parts, and of the entire body as well. For [in this last case] the movement in one thing has been caused by another, which is precisely what is called passion.
In still another way, action is called passion. For, while action is a movement according to nature, passion is a movement against nature. So, for this reason, action is called passion when one is not moved according to nature, whether by himself or by another. Thus, the pulsating movement of the heart is action, because it is natural; but its palpitating movement, because it is immoderate and not according to nature, is passion and not action.
Not every movement of the passible part of the soul is called a passion, but only the more violent ones which come within the range of sensation, because the little imperceptible ones are not passions at all. The passion must also have a considerable intensity. Consequently, a perceptible movement comes under the definition of passion, but the little movements which elude sensation do not make for passion.
One should note that our soul possesses two kinds of faculties: the cognitive and the vital. The cognitive faculties are mind, thought, opinion, imagination, and sensation. Will and choice, on the other hand, are vital, or appetitive, faculties. To make what has just been said more clear, let us discuss these things in detail. First of all, let us speak about the cognitive faculties. Imagination and sensation have already been sufficiently discussed in what has been said before. Thus, through sensation a passion is caused in the soul and this is called imagination. From imagination there arises an opinion. Then, when the thinking faculty has examined the opinion as to whether it is true or false, it decides what is true. For this reason, this faculty is called thought from its thinking and discerning. That which has been judged and set down as true is called mind.
Or, to put it in another way—one should note that the first movement of the mind is called intelligence. Intelligence being exercised about something is called thinking. When this has continued a while and has impressed the soul with the thing thought about, it is called consideration. And when the consideration has continued in the same subject and has thoroughly examined itself and interrogated the soul in regard to the thing thought about, then it is called prudence [or practical wisdom]. Then prudence extends on and produces reasoning, which is termed mental speech, and which they define as a most complete movement of the soul arising in its reasoning part without any vocal expression. It is from this that they say that the spoken word expressed by the tongue proceeds. And so, now that we have spoken about the cognitive faculties, let us speak of the vital, or appetitive faculties.
One should note that in the soul there is an innate force appetitive of what is natural to the soul and embracing all those things which pertain to its nature essentially. This is called will (θέλησις). The substance [of the soul] tends to exist and live, to think and feel; and it desires its own natural and complete actuality. This is why the natural will is defined as follows: Will is a rational and vital appetite attached solely to natural things. Hence, the will is the same natural, vital, and rational appetite for everything that goes to make up the nature; it is a simple faculty. The appetite of brute animals is not called a will, because it is not rational. Wishing (βούλησις) is a sort of natural willing, that is to say, a natural and rational appetite for some thing. For, inherent in the human soul, there is a faculty for rationally desiring. And so, when this rational appetite is moved toward something, it is called volition, for wishing is a rational appetition and desiring for something.
We speak of wishing both in respect to things which are in our power and in respect to things which are not; in other words, in respect to possible and impossible things. Thus, oftentimes we may wish to fornicate, or to exercise self-control, or to sleep, or some other such thing. These things are in our power and are possible. On the other hand, we may also wish to be a king, and that is not in our power. Then, possibly, we may wish never to die, and that is an impossible thing.
Wishing concerns the end, and not the means to the end. Now, the end is the thing desired, such as to be king or to enjoy good health, whereas the means to the end is the thing deliberated, or the way in which we may become healthy or get to be king. Immediately after wishing come inquiry and consideration. Then, after these, provided the thing is within our power, comes deliberation, or counsel. Deliberation is an inquisitive appetite arising in respect to such things which are to be done as are in our power. Thus, one deliberates as to whether or not he should pursue the object. Then he decides which is the better course, and this is called judgment. Then he becomes disposed to the thing decided as a result of the deliberation and prefers it, and this is called opinion. For, should one judge and not become disposed to the thing judged, that is to say, not prefer it, then it is not called opinion. Then, after this disposition, there comes choice or selection. Choice is the choosing and picking out of this one rather than the other of two things proposed. Then one moves to act, and this is called impulse. Then one enjoys, and this is called use. Then, after the use, the appetite ceases.
Now, in the case of the brute animals, when an appetite for something arises it is immediately followed by an impulse to act. This is because the appetite of brute animals is irrational and because they are led by their natural appetite. For this reason the appetite of brute animals is said to be neither a will nor a volition. Will is a rational and free natural appetite and with men, who are rational, the natural appetite is led rather than leads. Thus, man is moved freely with the aid of reason, since in him the cognitive and vital faculties are joined together. Hence, he freely desires and freely wills, freely lives and inquires, freely deliberates, freely judges, freely disposes himself, freely chooses, freely moves to act, and freely acts in respect to those things which are in accord with his nature.
One should note that, while we speak of wishing in God, in the strict sense we do not speak of choice. For God does not deliberate, because deliberation is due to ignorance. No one deliberates about what he knows. But, if deliberation is due to ignorance, then choice, too, is most certainly so. Hence, since God knows all things absolutely, He does not deliberate.
Neither do we speak of deliberation or choice in the soul of the Lord, because He did not suffer from ignorance. Even though He did have such a nature as was ignorant of future events, nevertheless, in so far as this nature was hypostatically united to God the Word, it did have knowledge of all things not by grace, but, as has been said, by virtue of the hypostatic union. Thus, He was Himself both God and man, and therefore did not have a will based upon opinion. He did have a will that was natural and simple and such as is to be found in all human persons, but His sacred soul held no opinion, that is to say, willed nothing contrary to His divine will, nor did it have a will in opposition to His divine will. Now, opinion varies with the persons except in the case of the sacred, simple, uncompounded, and undivided Godhead. For, since the Persons there are by no means divided and set at variance, neither is the object of their will divided. And since there is but one nature there, there is, likewise, only one natural will. Moreover, since, again, the Persons are not at variance, there is one thing willed and one movement of the three Persons. But with men, while there is one nature and, consequently, one natural will, yet, since the persons are separate and varying from one another in time and place, in their disposition toward things, and in very many other ways, for this reason their wills and opinions differ. Now, since in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ the natures are different, so also are the natural wills of His divinity and humanity different, that is to say, the willing faculties. Since, however, there is but one Person and but one who wills, then the thing willed, or the will based on opinion, must also be one with His human will, of course, following His divine will and willing those things which the divine will has willed it to will.
One should note that will is one thing and wishing another, and that the thing willed is one thing, the principle willing another, and the one willing still another. Whereas will is the simple faculty itself of willing, wishing is the will in regard to something, and the thing willed is the object of the will, or that which we will. For instance, the appetite tends to food. In this case, the simple acting appetite is a rational will, while the willing principle is that which possesses the faculty of willing, such as a man, and the one willing is he who uses the will.
One must bear in mind that when will means the will, or willing faculty, it is said to be a natural will; but that when it means the thing willed, then it is said to be will based on opinion.
One should note that all the faculties heretofore discussed are called acts, whether they be the cognitive, the vital, the natural, or the technical. Act is the natural force and movement of any substance. Again, natural act is the innate movement of every substance. Whence it is clear that those things that have the same substance have also the same act, whereas those that have different natures have different acts. For it is inconceivable that a substance should be devoid of natural act.
Again, that force which is indicative of any substance is natural act. Still again, the first ever-moving force of the intellectual soul, that is to say, the ever-moving reason perpetually springing naturally from it, is natural act. Still again, the force and movement of any substance, which only non-being does not have, is natural act.
Moreover, such actions as talking, walking, eating, drinking, and the like are also called acts. And the natural passions, too, such as hunger, thirst, and the like are frequently called acts. And, finally, the actuation of potency is called act.
There are, moreover, two ways in which a thing is said to be: in potency and in act. Thus, we say that a suckling child is potentially lettered, because it has the capacity to become so through instruction. Again, we say that a lettered person is both potentially and actually so. He is actually so, because he has the knowledge of letters; but he is potentially so, if, although he can expound, he actually is not doing so. Again, we say that he is lettered actually when he is acting, that is to say, expounding. Consequently, one should note that this second way of being is common to both potency and act, but that the second belongs rather to potency, whereas the first belongs to act.
A first, only, and true natural act is that independent, or rational, and free life which constitutes our species. When some people deprive our Lord of this, I do not understand how they say that He who is God became man.
Act is an active movement of nature. And that is called active which is moved of itself.
Since it is in some action that the voluntary consists, and also in some action that the involuntary in the commonly accepted sense of the term consists, there are many who put the involuntary in the absolute sense not only under passion but also under action. However, one must bear in mind that an action is a rational act. Actions incur praise or blame. The performance of some is accompanied by pleasure; of others, by pain. Some of them are desirable to the doer, whereas others are distasteful. Moreover, some of those which are desirable are always so, whereas others are so only at certain times. And it is the same with those which are distasteful. Then again, some actions are worthy of mercy and forgiveness, while others are detestable and to be punished. Therefore, concomitant with the absolutely voluntary are praise or blame, its performance with pleasure, and the fact that the actions are desirable to them that perform them, whether at all times or only at the particular time when they are performed. On the other hand, concomitant with the involuntary are the facts of the actions being worthy of forgiveness or mercy, or their being performed with pain, and of their not being desirable to the doer, whether because of his not doing them of his own accord or because of his being forced.
Now, the involuntary is due either to compulsion or to ignorance. It is due to compulsion when the efficient principle, or cause, is extrinsic—in other words, when we are compelled by another without our full agreement, without the concurrence of our own impulse, and without our cooperating or doing of our own accord the thing that we have been compelled to do. In defining it we say that that is involuntary of which the principle is extrinsic and in which the one compelled does not concur with his own impulse. By principle we mean the efficient cause. On the other hand, the involuntary is due to ignorance when we ourselves do not furnish the cause of the ignorance, and the thing just happens by chance. Thus, should someone commit murder while drunk, he would be doing it unwittingly, but certainly not involuntarily, because he himself has supplied the cause of the ignorance, that is to say, the drunkenness. If, however, someone has been shooting arrows in an accustomed place and has killed his father who had chanced by, he is said to have done this involuntarily through ignorance.
And so, since there are two kinds of involuntary, that due to compulsion and that due to ignorance, the voluntary is opposed to both. Thus, that is voluntary which is brought about by neither compulsion nor ignorance. Now, that is voluntary of which the principle, or cause, is in the doer himself as thoroughly understanding all the circumstances because of which and under which the action was performed. Circumstances are what the grammarians call ‘circumstantial parts of speech.’ For example: we have who, or the person who acted; whom, or the person acted upon; what, or the very thing that was done, as, for example, murder; with what, or the instrument; where, or in what place; when, or at what time; how, or the manner of action; and because of what or for what cause.
It should be borne in mind that there are some things which come between what is voluntary and what is involuntary and which, although they may be unpleasant and painful, we permit in order to avoid a greater evil—as, for example, when we jettison a ship’s cargo to avoid shipwreck.
It should be borne in mind that, while children and brute beasts act voluntarily, they certainly do not do so through deliberate choice, and that all that we do in anger without previous consideration we do voluntarily, but certainly not through deliberate choice. Likewise, when a friend drops in on us unexpectedly, we accept his visit voluntarily but cer- tainly not through deliberate choice. In the same way, one who has unexpectedly happened upon a treasure has indeed happened upon it willingly, but certainly not through delib- erate choice. All these things are indeed voluntary because of the pleasure connected with them, but certainly not be- cause of their having been chosen deliberately, since they did not happen as a result of deliberation. Choice must definitely be preceded by deliberation, as has been said.
In treating of free will that is to say, of what depends upon us, the first consideration is as to whether there is anything that does depend upon us, because there are a number of people who deny it. A second consideration is as to what things depend upon us and over what things we do have control. A third consideration is how to explain the reason for which the God who made us made us free. And so, let us take up the first question and at the very outset prove from things accepted as true by our adversaries that there are some things that depend upon us. And let us proceed as follows.
They say that everything that happens is caused either by God, or necessity, or fate, or nature, or chance, or spontaneity. But essence and providence are the work of God, while the movement of things which are always the same belongs to necessity. And to fate belongs the necessary fulfilment of what it has decreed, for fate also implies necessity. Generation, growth, corruption, plants, and animals belong to nature. The unusual and unexpected belong to chance. For chance is defined as the accidental concurrence of two causes originating in deliberate choice but resulting in something other than was intended, as in the case of someone digging a grave and finding a treasure. In this case, the one who put the treasure there did not do so in order that it might be found by another, and neither did the one who found it dig for the purpose of finding a treasure. On the contrary, the first put it there in order that he might get it whenever he should so choose, whereas the second dug in order to make a grave; but something else resulted, quite different from what was intended by either. Finally, to spontaneity belongs what befalls inanimate things or brute beasts without the intervention of nature or art. All this they themselves maintain. Now, if man is not an effective principle of action, to which of these causes are we to attribute human actions? It is definitely wrong ever to ascribe immoral and unjust actions to God; neither can they be ascribed to necessity, for they are not the actions of things which are always the same; nor can they be ascribed to fate, for they declare that the things decreed by fate are not contingent but necessary; nor to nature, for the works of nature are animals and plants; nor to chance, for human actions are not unusual and unexpected; nor yet to spontaneity, for they say that that is spontaneous which befalls inanimate things or brute beasts. Indeed, nothing remains but the fact that man himself as acting and doing is the principle of his own works and is free.
What is more, if man is not a principle of action, then his power of deliberation is superfluous, for to what use would he put his deliberation if he were not master of any action at all? All deliberation is on account of action, and it would furthermore be absurd were the most excellent and noble of the faculties in man to prove useless. Besides, when a man deliberates, he does so on account of action, because all deliberation is on account of and for the sake of action.
Some things done depend upon us, while others do not. Those things depend upon us which we are free either to do or not to do, that is to say, everything which we do voluntarily—for a thing would not be said to be done voluntarily if the action did not depend upon us. To put it simply: those things depend upon us which incur blame or praise and in respect to which one may be urged or bound by law. Properly speaking, all those things depend upon us which pertain to the soul and about which we deliberate. And it is about contingents that deliberation is exercised. A contingent is that which we can do itself, and of which we can also do the opposite. Our mind makes this choice of itself, and this is the beginning of action. Those things, then, depend upon us which are contingent as, for example, to move or not to move, to start or not to start, to desire things that are not absolutely necessary or not to desire them, to lie or not to lie, to give or not to give, to rejoice when one should and, similarly, not to when one should not, and all such things as imply virtue or vice for in these things we are free. The arts also belong to the number of the contingents, because it is in our power to cultivate them, if we so wish, or not to cultivate them.
One should note that the choice of things to be done always rests with us, but that their doing is oftentimes prevented by some disposition of Divine Providence.
We maintain, then, that the freedom of the will is directly connected with the reason. We also maintain that transformation and change are inherent in created beings. For everything that is created is also changeable, because whatever has originated in a change must needs be subject to change. Being brought from non-being to being is change, and so is being made into something else from an existing material. Now, inanimate things and brute beasts are changed by the corporeal alterations which have already been spoken of, whereas rational beings are changed by deliberate choice. This last is because of the fact that to the reason belong both the contemplative and active faculties. The contemplative faculty is that which examines the state of things, whereas the active faculty is the power of deliberation which applies right reason to such things as may be done. The contemplative faculty is also called mind, and the active faculty reason. Still again, the contemplative faculty is called wisdom, and the active faculty prudence. Thus, everyone who deliberates, as having in himself the power to choose such things as may be done, deliberates so that he may choose what has been selected through deliberation, and so that, having chosen it, he may act. But, if this is so, then freedom of will is necessarily connected by nature with the reason. Thus, a being may be irrational or rational; but, if it is rational, it will be the master of its actions and free. Whence it follows that the irrational beings are not free, since, instead of leading nature, they are led by it. And so it is that they do not deny their natural appetite, but, just as soon as they feel an appetite for something, they move to act. Man, however, since he is rational, leads his nature rather than is led by it. And so, when he feels an appetite, he has the power to resist it, should he so wish, or to obey it. This is why irrational beings are neither to be praised nor blamed, while man is to be praised or blamed.
One should note that, since the angels are rational, they are free, and that, since they are created, they are subject to change. And a proof of this is the Devil, who, although he had been created good by the Creator, of his own free will became the discoverer of evil; and so also are the powers that rebelled with him, that is to say, the evil spirits, while the rest of the angelic orders persevered in the good.
Some of those things which do not depend upon us have their origin, or cause, in things which do depend upon us. Such are the recompenses for our deeds, which we receive both in the present world and in that to come. All the rest, however, depend upon the divine will. The creation of all things is due to God, but corruption came in afterwards due to our own wickedness and as a punishment and a help. Tor God made not death : neither hath he pleasure in the destruc- tion of the living’; 1 rather, it was through man, that is to say, Adam’s transgression, that death came with the other punish- ments. All the rest, however, are to be attributed to God. Thus, our creation is due to His creative power, our per- manence to His providential power, and to His goodness the eternal enjoyment of the good things reserved for them that keep the law of nature for which reason we were made. However, since there are some who deny His providence, let us go on to say a few things about providence.
Providence, then, is the solicitude which God has for existing things. And again, providence is that will of God by which all existing things receive suitable guidance through to their end. But, if providence is God’s will, then, according to right reason, everything that has come about through providence has quite necessarily come about in the best manner and that most befitting God, so that it could not have happened in a better way. Now, the Maker of existing things must be the same as their Provider, for it is neither fitting nor logical that one should be their creator and another their provider, because in such a case they would both be definitely wanting the one in the matter of creating and the other in that of providing. Hence, God is both Creator and Provider, and is power of creating, sustaining, and providing is His good will. For ‘whatsoever the Lord pleased he hath done, in heaven, and in earth, and none resisted His will. He willed all things to be made and they were made; He wills the world to endure and it does endure; and all things whatsoever He wills are done.
Moreover, that He provides and provides well anyone might most correctly learn from the following consideration. God alone is by nature good and wise. Consequently, in so far as He is good He provides, because one who does not provide is not good. Even men and brute beasts naturally provide for their own offspring, and the one that does not will incur blame. Then, in so far as He is wise He provides for existing things in the very best way. 5
And so, bearing these things in mind we should admire, praise, and unconditionally accept all the works of providence. And should these appear to a number of people to be unjust, it is because of the fact that God’s providence is beyond knowledge and beyond comprehension, and because to Him alone are our thoughts and actions and the events of the future known. However, when I say ‘all,’ I am referring to those things which do not depend upon us, because those which do depend upon us do not belong to providence, but to our own free will.
Some of the things that are due to providence are by approval, whereas others are by permission. All those that are undeniably good are by approval, whereas of those that are by permission [there are many kinds]. Thus, He often permits even the just man to meet with misfortunes so that the virtue hidden in him may be made known to others, as in the case of Job. At other times, He permits something iniquitous to be done so that through this apparently iniquitous action some great and excellent thing may be brought about, as was the salvation of men by the Gross. In still another way, He permits the devout man to suffer evil either so that he may not depart from his right conscience or so that he may not fall into presumption from the strength and grace that have been given him, as in the case of Paul.
Someone may be abandoned for a while for the correction of others so that by observing his state they may be instructed as in the case of Lazarus and the rich man. For we are naturally humbled when we see the sufferings of others. Someone may also be abandoned not because of his own sins or his parents but for the glory of another, as was the man born blind for the glory of the Son of Man. Again, someone may be permitted to suffer as an object of emulation for others so that because of the greatness of the glory of the one that suffered they may without hesitation accept suffering in hope of future glory and with a desire for the good things to come, as in the case of the martyrs. A person may even be allowed at times to fall into a immoral action for the correction of another and worse affliction. For example, a certain person is conceited about his virtues and righteousness, and God permits him to fall into fornication so that by his fall he may become conscious of his own weakness, be humbled, and, drawing nigh, confess to the Lord.
One should, moreover, note that, while the choice of things that may be done rests with us, the accomplishment of the good ones is due to the co-operation of God, who in accordance with His foreknowledge justly co-operates with those who in right conscience choose the good. The accomplishment of the bad things, however, is due to abandonment by God, who, again in accordance with His foreknowledge, justly abandons us.
Now, there are two kinds of abandonment, for there is one by dispensation which is for our instruction and there is another which is absolute rejection. That abandonment is by dispensation and for our instruction which happens for the correction, salvation, and glory of the one who experiences it, or which happens either to give others an object for emulation and imitation, or even for the glory of God. On the other hand, there is absolute abandonment, when God has done everything for a man’s salvation, yet the man of his own accord remains obdurate and uncured, or rather, incorrigible, and is then given over to absolute perdition, like Judas. May God spare and deliver us from this sort of abandonment.
One should furthermore bear in mind that the ways of God’s providence are many, and that they can neither be explained in words nor grasped by the mind.
One must note that for those who accept them with thanksgiving the attacks of adversity redound to salvation and definitely become instruments of aid.
One should also bear in mind that God antecedently wills all to be saved and to attain to His kingdom. For He did not form us to be chastised, but, because He is good, that we might share in His goodness. Yet, because He is just. He does wish to punish sinners. So, the first is called antecedent will and approval, and it has Him as its cause; the second is called consequent will and permission, and it has ourselves as its cause. This last is twofold: that which is by dispensation and for our instruction and salvation, and that which is abandonment to absolute chastisement, as we have said. These, however, belong to those things which do not depend upon us.
As to the things which do depend upon us, the good ones He wills antecedently and approves, whereas the evil, which are essentially bad, He neither wills antecedently nor consequently, but permits them to the free will. Now, that which is done under compulsion is not rational; neither can it be a virtuous act. God provides for all creation, and through all creation He does good and instructs, oftentimes using even the demons themselves for this purpose, as in the case of Job and in that of the swine.
One should note that God foreknows all things but that He does not predestine them alL 1 Thus, He foreknows the things that depend upon us, but He does not predestine them because—neither does He will evil to be done nor does He force virtue. And so, predestination is the result of the divine command made with foreknowledge. Those things which do not depend upon us, however, He predestines in accordance with His foreknowledge. For, through His foreknowledge, He has already decided all things beforehand in accordance with His goodness and justice.
One should furthermore note that our nature has been endowed by God with virtue, and that He is the source and author of all good, without whose co-operation and assistance we are powerless either to will good or to do it. Moreover, it depends upon ourselves whether we are to persevere in virtue and be guided by God who invites us to practice it; or whether we are to abandon virtue, which is to become attached to vice and be guided by the Devil, who, without forcing us, is inviting us to practice vice. For evil is nothing else but the absence of good, precisely as darkness is the absence of light. Consequently, when we persevere in what is according to nature, we are in a state of virtue; but, when we abandon what is according to nature, that is to say, virtue, we come to what is contrary to nature and become attached to vice.
Repentance is a return through discipline and toil from that which is against nature to that which is according to it, from the Devil to God.
Now, the Creator fashioned this man as a male and imparted His own divine grace to him, thus putting him in communion with Himself. And thus it was that man, like a prophet and lord, gave names to the animals which had been given him as slaves. For, since he had been made in the image of God rational, understanding, and free, it was reasonable that he should be entrusted by the common Creator and Lord of all with the government over the things on earth.
However, since God knew the future and foresaw that man was to fall and be subject to death, He made from him a female as a helpmate for him of his own kind to aid him in the establishment of the race after the fall by succession through the process of begetting. Now, the first forming is called ‘creation,’ not ‘begetting.’ Creation is the first forming by God, whereas begetting is the succession of one from another made necessary by the sentence of death resulting from, the fall.
This man He set in the paradise ‘which was both of the mind and of the senses. Thus, while in his body he lived on earth in the world of sense, in his spirit he dwelt among the angels, cultivating thoughts of God and being nurtured on these. He was naked because of his innocence and his simplicity of life, and through creatures he was drawn up to their only Creator, in whose contemplation he rejoiced and took delight.
Since God had endowed man’s nature with a free will, He made it a law for him not to taste of that tree of knowledge of which we have spoken sufficiently and to the best of our ability in the chapter on paradise. This command He gave to man with the promise that should he let reason prevail, recognising his Creator and observing his Creator’s ordinance, and thus preserve the dignity of his soul, then he would become stronger than death and would live forever in the enjoyment of everlasting bliss. On the other hand, should he shake off the yoke of his Maker and disregard His divine ordinance, thus subordinating soul to body and preferring the pleasures of the flesh, ‘not understanding his own honour and compared to senseless beasts,’ then he would be subject to death and corruption and would be obliged to drag out his miserable existence in toil. For it was not profitable for him to attain incorruptibility while yet untried and untested, ‘lest he fall into pride and the judgment of the devil.’ For it was by reason of his incorruptibility that, after his fall by deliberate choice, the Devil became unrepentingly and immoveably rooted in evil. In the same way again, after their deliberate election of virtue, the angels were immutably founded in good by grace.
And so it was necessary first for man to be tested, since one who is untried and untested deserves no credit. Then, when trial had made him perfect through his keeping of the commandment, he should thus win incorruptibility, the reward of virtue. For, since he had been created half way between God and matter, should he be freed from his natural relationship to creatures and united to God by keeping the commandment, then he was to be permanently united to God and immutably rooted in good. Should he, on the other hand through his disobedience turn his mind away from his Author—I mean God—and tend rather toward matter, then he was to be associated with corruption, to become passible rather than impassible, and mortal rather than immortal. He was to stand in need of carnal copulation and seminal generation, and because of his attachment to life was not only to cling to these pleasures as if they were necessary to sustain this life, but also to hate without limit such as would think of depriving him of them. And while he was to transfer his attachment from God to matter, he was also to transfer his anger from the real enemy of his salvation to his own kind. And so it was that man was overcome by the envy of the Devil. For that envious and hateful demon, having himself been brought low by his conceit, would not suffer us to attain the higher things. So the liar tempted that wretched man with the very hope of divinity, and, having raised him up to his own heights of conceit, dragged him down to the same abyss of ruin.