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But the Superintendent of the field forbids the servants to gather up the useless crop, on account of their growing at the very root of the contrary sort; so as not to root up the nutritious along with that foreign growth. Christian doctrine differs considerably from the rampant speculation on the human person that characterizes contemporary pop culture; these particular examples were mostly a useful springboard. Observe this, and nothing else; that such a view about the soul amounts to nothing less than the abandoning of virtue, and seeking the pleasure of the moment only; the life of eternity, by which alone virtue claims the advantage, must be despaired of. While the sight of a garment suggests to any one the weaver of it, and the thought of the shipwright comes at the sight of the ship, and the hand of the builder is brought to the mind of him who sees the building, these little souls gaze upon the world, but their eyes are blind to Him whom all this that we see around us makes manifest; and so they propound their clever and pungent doctrines about the soul's evanishment;— body from elements, and elements from body, and, besides, the impossibility of the soul's self-existence (if it is not to be one of these elements, or lodged in one); for if these opponents suppose that by virtue of the soul not being akin to the elements it is nowhere after death, they must propound, to begin with, the absence of the soul from the fleshly life as well, seeing that the body itself is nothing but a concourse of those elements; and so they must not tell us that the soul is to be found there either, independently vivifying their compound. But what, I asked, if your opponent should shield himself behind the Apostle, where he says that every reasoning creature, in the restitution of all things, is to look towards Him Who presides over the whole? Whatever instance we take, howsoever we suppose this to have been, it is all the same; from these differences in life there arises no difficulty, any more than any facility, with regard to the Resurrection. Therefore this blind movement of chance is to rule the whole of life, and no Providence is any more to pervade the world. But I think that a detailed mention of these things is not necessary; for no doubt about them lingers in the minds of those who have accepted the written accounts of them. Liberty too is in all cases one and the same essentially; it has a natural attraction to itself. A greater absurdity even than this is involved: if, as is the fact, the large majority of the brute creation copulate in the spring, are we, then, to say that the spring brings it about that evil is engendered in the revolving world above, so that, at one and the same moment, there certain souls are impregnated with evil and so fall, and here certain brutes conceive? Struggling with the issue of resurrection, he followed Plato's example and dramatized the interior workings of his mind in dialogue form, which his elder sister St. … There remains the question of the when of the soul's commencement of existence: it follows immediately on that which we have already discussed. Scripture informs us that the Deity proceeded by a sort of graduated and ordered advance to the creation of man. Why , either we must plan to keep the soul absolutely untouched and free from any stain of evil; or, if our passionate nature makes that quite impossible, then we must plan that our failures in excellence consist only in mild and easily-curable derelictions. Just, then, as we have no doubts, owing to the display of a Divine mysterious wisdom in the universe, about a Divine Being and a Divine Power existing in it all which secures its continuance (though if you required a definition of that Being you would therein find the Deity completely sundered from every object in creation, whether of sense or thought, while in these last, too, natural distinctions are admitted), so, too, there is nothing strange in the soul's separate existence as a substance (whatever we may think that substance to be) being no hindrance to her actual existence, in spite of the elemental atoms of the world not harmonizing with her in the definition of her being. Gregory’s family is significant, for two of the most influential people on his thought are two of his elder siblings–his sister Macrina (c.327—379) and Basil (c.330—379), the oldest boy in the family. Surely you would not call your atoms that Hades. When she had finished, I hesitated a moment, and then said: I am not yet satisfied about the thing which we have been inquiring into; after all that has been said my mind is still in doubt; and I beg that our discussion may be allowed to revert to the same line of reasoning as before , omitting only that upon which we are thoroughly agreed. This unnatural state may supervene instead of the natural, either by wilful shutting of the eyes or by deprivation of their sight through disease. Seeing, then, that this change is observed in all these ways, and that principle of life, whatever it might be, disappears all at once out of sight, as the flame of an extinguished lamp which burnt on it the moment before neither remains upon the wick nor passes to some other place, but completely disappears, how can such a change be borne without emotion by one who has no clear ground to rest upon? On the Soul and the Resurrection. There are many states, for instance, which are occasioned by desire; many others which on the other hand proceed from anger; and none of them are of the body; but that which is not of the body is plainly intellectual. Everything will be entirely under the control of the driver, Chance; and our lives will differ not at all from vessels devoid of ballast, and will drift on waves of unaccountable circumstances, now to this, now to that incident of good or of evil. Indeed there is nothing external to It, with the sole exception of evil, which, strange as it may seem to say, possesses an existence in not existing at all. Are they to continue in that infantine state? The question presents, on the face of it, many insuperable difficulties. Gregory uses the image of barnacles which attach themselves to the hull of a ship. Is it not clearly proved by such visible results that there is a mind of some kind in man, something other than that which is visible, which, by virtue of an invisible thinking nature of its own, first prepares by inward invention such devices, and then, when they have been so matured, brings them to the light and exhibits them in the subservient matter? The fire on the wick, as far as appearance goes, certainly seems always the same, the continuity of its movement giving it the look of being an uninterrupted and self-centred whole; but in reality it is always passing itself along and never remains the same; the moisture which is extracted by the heat is burnt up and changed into smoke the moment it has burst into flame and this alterative force effects the movement of the flame, working by itself the change of the subject-matter into smoke; just, then, as it is impossible for one who has touched that flame twice on the same place, to touch twice the very same flame (for the speed of the alteration is too quick; it does not wait for that second touch, however rapidly it may be effected; the flame is always fresh and new; it is always being produced, always transmitting itself, never remaining at one and the same place), a thing of the same kind is found to be the case with the constitution of our body. What can one say of them? If, for instance, a little boy was buried, but a grown man rises again, or reversely, how can we say that the dead in his very self is raised up, when he has had some one substituted for him by virtue of this difference in age? Now, if reason can see any analogy in this simile, we must search the matter in hand by its light. At least, if the dissolution of a compacted whole is a death; for indeed it cannot be supposed that the seed would spring up into a shoot unless it had been dissolved in the soil, and so become spongy and porous to such an extent as to mingle its own qualities with the adjacent moisture of the soil, and thus become transformed into a root and shoot; not stopping even there, but changing again into the stalk with its intervening knee-joints that gird it up like so many clasps, to enable it to carry with figure erect the ear with its load of grain. This issue faced St Paul in his dealing with the early church and also troubles St Gregory of Nyssa … Secondly , seeing that the soul as it moves round in heaven is there entangled with evil and is in consequence dragged down to live in mere matter, from whence, however, it is lifted again into its residence on high, it follows that those philosophers establish the very contrary of their own views; they establish, namely, that the life in matter is the purgation of evil, while that undeviating revolution along with the stars is the foundation and cause of evil in every soul: if it is here that the soul by means of virtue grows its wing and then soars upwards, and there that those wings by reason of evil fall off, so that it descends and clings to this lower world and is commingled with the grossness of material nature. Not even then, when those atoms have again been dissolved into themselves, has that bond of a vivifying influence vanished; but as, while the framework of the body still holds together, each individual part is possessed of a soul which penetrates equally every component member, and one could not call that soul hard and resistent though blended with the solid, nor humid, or cold, or the reverse, though it transmits life to all and each of such parts, so, when that framework is dissolved, and has returned to its kindred elements, there is nothing against probability that that simple and incomposite essence which has once for all by some inexplicable law grown with the growth of the bodily framework should continually remain beside the atoms with which it has been blended, and should in no way be sundered from a union once formed. Supposing the man refuses the union, or the woman keeps herself clear of the necessity of becoming a mother, will evil then fail to weigh down that particular soul? For the man who had asked the Apostle, how are the dead raised up? By animate, I mean possessed of life: and of the things possessed of life, some have it with sensation, the rest have no sensation. Imagine a potter with a supply of clay; and let the supply be a large one; and let part of it have been already moulded to form finished vessels, while the rest is still waiting to be moulded; and suppose the vessels themselves not to be all of similar shape, but one to be a jug, for instance, and another a wine-jar, another a plate, another a cup or any other useful vessel; and further, let not one owner possess them all, but let us fancy for each a special owner. Please try again. Now as long as these vessels are unbroken they are of course recognizable by their owners, and none the less so, even should they be broken in pieces; for from those pieces each will know, for instance, that this belongs to a jar , and, again, what sort of fragment belongs to a cup. On the Soul and the Resurrection. Let the soul stand for this Art of the painter ; and let the natural atoms stand for the colors of his art; and let the mixture of that tint compounded of the various dyes, and the return of these to their native state (which we have been allowed to assume), represent respectively the concourse, and the separation of the atoms. The argument has not yet touched the most vital of all the questions relating to our Faith. how we may continue in this life; indeed it is for this that houses have been invented by us to live in; in order that our bodies may not be prostrated in their environment by cold or heat. "On the Soul and the Resurrection" is definitely one of the highpoints of St. Gregory of Nyssa's writings. Seeing, then, that this life of sensation could not possibly exist apart from the matter which is the subject of it, and the intellectual life could not be embodied, either, without growing in the sentient, on this account the creation of man is related as coming last, as of one who took up into himself every single form of life, both that of plants and that which is seen in brutes. Please try again. Well, then, if one thinks so with regard to the matter now before us, one will not fail to gain a proper conception of it. This last can be ended only by its opposite; but when you have a good, as here, which is in its essence incapable of a change for the worse, then that good will go on unchecked into infinity. First, for instance, he saw, by dint of thinking, that to produce any sound there is need of some wind; and then, with a view to produce wind in the mechanism, he previously ascertained by a course of reasoning and close observation of the nature of elements, that there is no vacuum at all in the world, but that the lighter is to be considered a vacuum only by comparison with the heavier; seeing that the air itself, taken as a separate subsistence, is crowded quite full. Whence do seeds get the bodies that spring up from them? And yet this result sprang from that grain; if that grain had not existed first, the ear would not have arisen. And what are we to say about the husbandman who sets the vine-shoots in the soil? But in that form of life, of which God Himself was the Creator, it is reasonable to believe that there was neither age nor infancy nor any of the sufferings arising from our present various infirmities, nor any kind of bodily affliction whatever. Previous page of related Sponsored Products. Men observed this, and devised in accordance with this property of the two elements a way of introducing air to work their mechanism. For truly herein consists the real assimilation to the Divine; viz. To think that in the case of any single one of these things a soul of a man has become a plant or animal , while no marks are stamped upon them to indicate what sort of plant or animal it is that has been a man, and what sort has sprung from other beginnings — such a conception as this will dispose him who has entertained it to feel an equal amount of interest in everything: he must perforce either harden himself against actual human beings who are in the land of the living, or, if his nature inclines him to love his kindred, he will feel alike towards every kind of life, whether he meet it in reptiles or in wild beasts. There was an error retrieving your Wish Lists. What then, I asked, is the doctrine here? Seeing, then, that one or the other of these two diametrically opposed ideas, I mean good and evil, must any way attach to us, it is clear that to say a man is not included in the good is a necessary demonstration that he is included in the evil. Many of the early fathers sought to understand their Christian faith through the lens of their secular educations, and Gregory is not afraid to apply the science of his day to the many questions he poses in this dialogue with his sister, Macrina. Now we think that Scripture means by the good seed the corresponding impulses of the soul, each one of which, if only they are cultured for good, necessarily puts forth the fruit of virtue within us. If, then, a man indulges these affections in a due proportion and holds them in his own power instead of being held in theirs, employing them for an instrument as a king does his subjects' many hands, then efforts towards excellence more easily succeed for him. For therein the inventor of lies fabricates false theories only to harm the Truth. Kindle version is not the SVS version, and is of low quality and poorly formatted. We declare, then, that the speculative, critical, and world-surveying faculty of the soul is its peculiar property by virtue of its very nature , and that thereby the soul preserves within itself the image of the divine grace; since our reason surmises that divinity itself, whatever it may be in its inmost nature, is manifested in these very things — universal supervision and the critical discernment between good and evil. 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