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Book III.

Chapter I.—Concerning the Divine Œconomy and God’s care over us, and concerning our salvation.

Man, then, was thus snared by the assault of the arch-fiend, and broke his Creator’s command, and was stripped of grace and put off his confidence with God, and covered himself with the asperities of a toilsome life (for this is the meaning of the fig-leaves19241924    Gen. iii. 7; cf. Greg. Naz., Orat. 38 and 42; Greg. Nyss., Orat. Catech. c. 8.); and was clothed about with death, that is, mortality and the grossness of flesh (for this is what the garment of skins signifies); and was banished from Paradise by God’s just judgment, and condemned to death, and made subject to corruption. Yet, notwithstanding all this, in His pity, God, Who gave him his being, and Who in His graciousness bestowed on him a life of happiness, did not disregard man19251925    Text, παρεῖδεν. Variant, περιεῖδεν.. But He first trained him in many ways and called him back, by groans and trembling, by the deluge of water, and the utter destruction of almost the whole race19261926    Gen. vi. 13., by confusion and diversity of tongues19271927    Ibid. xi. 7., by the rule19281928    ἐπιστασία, care, or dominion. of angels19291929    Gen. xviii. 1 seqq., by the burning of cities19301930    Ibid. xix. 1 seqq., by figurative manifestations of God, by wars and victories and defeats, by signs and wonders, by manifold faculties, by the law and the prophets: for by all these means God earnestly strove to emancipate man from the wide-spread and enslaving bonds of sin, which had made life such a mass of iniquity, and to effect man’s return to a life of happiness. For it was sin that brought death like a wild and savage beast into the world19311931    Wisd. ii. 24. to the ruin of the human life. But it behoved the Redeemer to be without sin, and not made liable through sin to death, and further, that His nature should be strengthened and renewed, and trained by labour and taught the way of virtue which leads away from corruption to the life eternal and, in the end, is revealed the mighty ocean of love to man that is about Him19321932    Greg. Naz., Orat. 12 and 38.. For the very Creator and Lord Himself undertakes a struggle19331933    Text, πάλην. Variant, πλάσιν, cf. “plasmationem” (Faber). in behalf of the work of His own hands, and learns by toil to become Master. And since the enemy snares man by the hope of Godhead, he himself is snared in turn by the screen of flesh, and so are shown at once the goodness and wisdom, the justice and might of God. God’s goodness is revealed in that He did not disregard19341934    Text, παρείδε. Variant, περιεῖδεν. the frailty of His own handiwork, but was moved with compassion for him in his fall, and stretched forth His hand to him: and His justice in that when man was overcome He did not make another victorious over the tyrant, nor did He snatch man by might from death, but in His goodness and justice He made him, who had become through his sins the slave of death, himself once more conqueror and rescued like by like, most difficult though it seemed: and His wisdom is seen in His devising the most fitting solution of the difficulty19351935    Greg. Nyss., Orat. Cathec., ch. 20 et seqq.. For by the good pleasure of our God and Father, the Only-begotten Son and Word of God and God, Who is in the bosom of the God and Father19361936    St. John i. 18., of like essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit, Who was before the ages, Who is without beginning and was in the beginning, Who is in the presence of the God and Father, and is God and made in the form of God19371937    Phil. ii. 6., bent the heavens and descended to earth: that is to say, He humbled without humiliation His lofty station which yet could not be humbled, and condescends to His servants19381938    “Condescends to His servants” is absent in some mss., with a condescension ineffable and incomprehensible: (for that is what the descent signifies). And God being perfect becomes perfect man, and brings to perfection the newest of all new things19391939    Eccles. i. 10., the only new thing under the Sun, through which the boundless might of God is manifested. For what greater thing is there, than that God should become Man? And the Word became flesh without being changed, of the Holy Spirit, and Mary the holy and ever-virgin one, the mother of God. And He acts as mediator between God and man, He the only lover of man conceived in the Virgin’s chaste womb without will19401940    Greg. Nyss., Cat. ch. 16. or desire, or any connection with man or pleasurable generation, but through the 46bHoly Spirit and the first offspring of Adam. And He becomes obedient to the Father Who is like unto us, and finds a remedy for our disobedience in what He had assumed from us, and became a pattern of obedience to us without which it is not possible to obtain salvation19411941    Athan., De salut. adv. Christi..

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