AGAINST THE HEATHEN ST. ATHANASIUS
XLVI. Doctrine of Scripture on the subject of Part 3.
Has then the divine teaching, which abolished the godlessness of the heathen or the idols, passed over in silence, and left the race of mankind to go entirely unprovided with the knowledge of God ? Not so: rather it anticipates their understanding when it says: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one God;" and again, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy strength ;" and again, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve, and shalt cleave to Him.". But that the providence and ordering power of the Word also, over all and toward all, is attested by all inspired Scripture, this passage suffices to confirm our argument, where men who speak of God say: "Thou hast laid the foundation of the earth and it abideth. The day con-tinueth according to Thine ordinance." And again: "Sing to our God upon the harp, that covereth the heaven with clouds, that pre-pareth rain for the earth, that bringeth forth grass upon the mountains, and green herb for the service of man, and giveth food to the cattle."
2. But by whom does He give it, save by Him through Whom all things were made ? For the providence over all things belongs naturally to Him by Whom they were made; and who is this save the Word of God, concerning Whom in another psalm he says: "By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the Breath of His mouth." For He tells us that all things were made in Him and through Him.
3. Wherefore He also persuades us and says, He spoke and they were made, He commanded and they were created;" as the illustrious Moses also at the beginning of his account of Creation confirms what we say by his narrative, saying: and God said, "let us make man in our image and after our likeness:" for also when He was carrying out the creation of the heaven and earth and all things, the Father said to Him, "Let the heaven be made," and "let the waters be gathered together and let the dry land appear," and "let the earth bring forth herb" and "every green thing:" so that one must convict Jews also of not genuinely attending to the Scriptures.
4. For one might ask them to whom was God speaking, to use the imperative mood ? If He were commanding and addressing the things He was creating, the utterance would be redundant, for they were not yet in being, but were about to be made; but no one speaks to what does not exist, nor addresses to what is not yet made a command to be made. For if God were giving a command to the things that were to be, He must have said, "Be modal, heaven, and be made, earth, and come forth, green herb, and be created, O man." But in fact He did not do so; but He gives the command thus: Let us make man," and "let the green herb come forth." By which God is proved to be speaking about them to some one at hand: it follows then that some one was with Him to Whom He spoke when He made all things.
5. Who then could it be, save His Word ? For to whom could God be said to speak, except His Word ? Or who was with Him when He made all created Existence, except His Wisdom, which says: "When He was making the heaven and the earth I was present with Him ?" But in the mention of heaven and earth, all created things in heaven and earth are included as well.
6. But being present with Him as His Wisdom and His Word, looking at the Father He fashioned the Universe, and organised it and gave it order; and, as He is the power of the Father, He gave all things strength to be, as the Savionr says: "What things soever I see the Father doing, I also do in like manner." And His holy disciples teach that all things were made "through Him and unto Him ;"
7. and, being the good Offspring of Him that is good, and true Son, He is the Father's Power and Wisdom and Word, not being so by participation, nor as if these qualifies were imparted to Him from without, as they are to those who partake of Him and are made wise by Him, and receive power and reason in Him; but He is the very Wisdom, very Word, and very own Power of the Father, very Light, very Truth, very Righteousness, very Virtue, and in truth His express Image, and Brightness, and Resemblance. And to sum all up, He is the wholly perfect Fruit of the Father, and is alone the Son, and unchanging Image of the Father.
XLVII. Necessity of a return to the Word if our corrupt nature is to be restored.
Who then, who can declare the Father by number, so as to discover the powers of His Word ? For like as He is the Father's Word and Wisdom, so too condescending to created things, He becomes, to impart the knowledge and apprehension of Him that begot Him, His very Brightness and very Life, and the Door, and the Shepherd, and the Way, and King and Governor, and Saviour over all, and Light, and Giver of Life, and Providence over all. Having then such a Son begotten of Himself, good, and Creator, the Father did not hide Him out of the sight of His creatures, but even day by day reveals Him to all by means of the organisation and life of all things, which is His work.
2. But in and through Him He reveals Himself also, as the Saviour says: "I in the Father and the Father in Me:" so that it follows that the Word is in Him that begot Him, and that He that is begotten lives eternally with the Father. But this being so, and nothing being outside Him, but both heaven and earth and all that in them is being dependent on Him, yet men in their folly have set aside the knowledge and service of Him, and honoured things that are not instead of things that are: and instead of the real and true God deified things that were not, "serving the creature rather than the Creator," thus involving themselves in foolishness and impiety.
3. For it is just as if one were to admire the works more than the workman, and being awestruck at the public works in the city, were to make light of their builder, or as if one were to praise a musical instrument but to despise the man who made and tuned it. Foolish and sadly disabled in eyesight! For how else had they known the building, or ship, or lyre, had not the ship-builder made it, the architect built it, or the musician fashioned it ?
4. As then he that reasons in such a way is mad, and beyond all madness, even so affected in mind, I think, are those who do not recognise God or worship His Word, our Lord Jesus Christ the Saviour of all, through Whom the Father orders, and holds together all things, and exercises providence over the Universe; having faith and piety towards Whom, my Christ-loving friend, be of good cheer and of good hope, because immortality and the kingdom of heaven is the fruit of faith and devotion towards Him, if only the soul be adorned according to His laws. For just as for them who walk after His example, the prize is life everlasting, so for those who walk the opposite way, and not that of virtue, there is great shame, and peril without pardon in the day of judgment, because although they knew the way of truth their acts were contrary to their knowledge.