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his admiration in these words, “Who is worthy to praise the wisdom and power of the Creator!” and many other such exclamations. The Christian writers, however, are most full upon this subject, particularly St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, and others, who carry their observations so far as the nails and the hair, especially that on the eyelids. And Nyssen, on the words, Let us make man, has the following observation. “Man is a grand and noble creature !
How can man be said to be any great matter, seeing he is a mortal creature, subject to a great many passions; from the time of his birth to that of his old age, exposed to a vast many evils and distresses ; and of whom it is written, Lord, what is man that thou shouldest be mindful of him? The history we have of the production of man delivered me from this difficulty; for we are told, that God took some of the dust of the earth, and out of it formed man; from these words I understood, that man was at once nothing, and yet something very grand.” He intended to say that the materials out of wbich man was made were low, and as it were nothing ; but if you
consider the wonderful workmanship, how great was the honour conferred upon him! “The earth did not spontaneously produce man, as it did grasshoppers. God did not commit the production of this or that particular creature to his ministering powers; no, the gracious Creator took the earth in his own hand.” But besides the noble frame of his body, though it was made of the dust of the earth, the divine breath, and, by means of it, the infusion of a precious soul, mixes heaven and earth together; not indeed in the common acceptation of that term, as if things so vastly different, were promiscuously jumbled together, and the order of nature subverted, but only implying, that the two parts of the human constitution are compounded with inexpressible art, and joined in a close union. As to the misery of the human race, and the contemptible light in which the life of man appears, it is to be ascribed to another source very different from the earthly materials out of which his body was made. That he was created happy, beautiful, and honourable, he owed to his great and good Creator ; but he himself is the author of his own misery. And hence it is, that though, with regard to his original and pure nature, we ought, for the strongest reasons, to
speak more honourably of him than of any other part of the visible world, yet, if we view him in his present circumstances, no part of the creation deserves to be lamented in more mournful strains.
But what words can express, what thought can comprehend, the dignity and powers of that heavenly soul that inhabits this earthly body, and the divine image that is stamped upon it? The philosophers of all ages and nations have been inquiring into the nature of it, and have not yet found it out.
A great many have also amused themselves with whimsical conjectures and fancies, and have endeavoured to discover, by very different methods, a figure of the blessed Trinity in the faculties of the soul. Nor was Methodius satisfied with finding a representation of this mystery in the soul of every particular man, but also imagined he had discovered it in the three first persons of the human race, Adam, Eve, and their first born son; because in them he found unbegotten, begotten, and proceeding, as also unity of nature, and the origination of all mankind. But, not to insist upon these, it is certain, the rational, or intellectual, and immortal soul, so long as it retained its original purity, was adorned with the lively and refulgent image of the Father of Spirits, its eternal Creator; but afterwards, when it became polluted and stained with sin, this image though not immediately quite ruined, was however, miserably obscured and defaced. It is true, the beautiful and erect frame of the human body, which gives it an advantage over all other creatures, and some other external graces that man possesses, may possibly be some reflected rays of the divine excellence; but I should hardly call them the image of God. As St. Ambrose well observes, “How can flesh, which is but earth, be said to be made after the image of God, in whom there is no earth at all? And shall we be said to be like God, because we are of a higher rank than sheep and does ?"
The dominion over the rest of the creatures which man enjoys, is a kind of faint shadow of the absolute and unlimited
sway of the supreme Majesty of heaven and earth. I dare not however venture to say, it is that image of which we are speaking ; but, as those who draw the picture of a king, after laying down the lineaments of the face and body,
use to add the purple robe and other ensigns of royalty, this dominion may certainly supply the place of these, with regard to this image of God on man. But the lively colours in which the image itself is drawn, are, says Nyssen, “ purity, absence of evil, understanding, and speech.” For even the eternal Son, and the wisdom of the Father seems to be intended by the philosophers under the term of the Creating Mind ; and by the divine apostle John, he is called the Word. To these we bave very good ground to add charity, as nothing can be named that renders man more like to God; for “God is love and the fountain of it.” It is true, charity is a valuable disposition of the mind, but it also discovers itself in the frame of the human body; for man was made quite defenceless, having neither horns, claws, nor sting, but is naked and harmless, and, as it were, entirely formed for meekness, peace, and charity.
The same author, speaking of the image of God on man, expresses himself as follows: “Wherefore, that you may be like God, exercise liberality and beneficence, study to be innocent, avoid every crime, subdue all the motions of sin, conquer all the beasts that are within you. What, you will say, have I beasts within me? Yes, you have beasts, and a vast number of them. And that you may not think, I intend to insult you, is anger an inconsiderable beast, when it barks in your heart? What is deceit, when it lies hid in a cunning mind? Is it not a fox ? Is not the man who is furiously bent upon calumny, a scorpion? Is not the person who is eagerly set on resentment and revenge a venomous viper ? What do you say of a covetous man? Is he not a ravenous wolf? And is not the lascivious man, as the prophet expresses it, a neighing horse? Nay, there is no wild beast but is found within us. And do you consider yourself as lord and prince of the wild beasts, because you command those that are without, though you never think of subduing or setting bounds to those that are within you? What advantage bave you by your reason, which enables you to overcome lions, if, after all, you yourself are overcome by anger ? To what purpose do you rule over the birds, and catch them with gins, if you yourself with the inconstancy. of a bird, are hurried hither and thither, and sometimes flying high are ensnared by pride, sometimes brought down and caught by pleasure ?
But as it is shameful for bim wbo rules over nations to be a slave at home, and for the man who sits at the helm of the state to be meanly subjected to the beck of a contemptible harlot or even of an imperious wife, will it not be, in like manner, disgraceful for you, who exercise dominion over the beasts that are without you, to be subject to a great many, and those of the worst sort, at roar and domineer in your distempered mind.
I shall, last of all, here subjoin what some of the ancients have observed, namely, that the nature of the human soul, as it lies hid out of sight, and is to us quite unknown, bears an evident resemblance to that of God, who is himself unsearchable and past finding out.”
But when we have well considered all these things, and the
many other thoughts of this kind that may occur, may we not cry out, How surprising and shocking is the madness and folly of mankind! the far greater part whereof, as if they had quite forgot their original and native dignity, disparage themselves so far, as to pursue the meanest objects, and shamefully plunge themselves in mud.”
The words of Epictetus are divine, and have a wonderful savour of piety. “ You go to the city of Olympia,” says
“ to see some of the works of Phidias; but you have no ambition to assemble, in order to understand and look at those works which may be seen without travelling at all. Will you never understand what you are, nor why you were brought into the world ; nor, finally, what that is which you have now an opportunity to view and contemplate ?" And in another place he says, “If we were wise, what have we else to do, both in public and private, but to praise and celebrate the Deity, and to return our thanks to bim? Ought we not while we are digging, ploughing, and eating, to sing to God this hymn, Great is the Lord who has provided us with these necessaries of life ?"
As for you, I would have you to be sensible of the honour and dignity of your original state; and to be deeply impressed with the indignity and disgrace of your nature, now fallen and vitiated. And dwell particularly upon the contemplation of it. Suffer not the great honour and dignity of the human race, which is to know the eternal and invisible God, to acknowledge him, love him, and
worship him, to decay and die away within you. This,
That God is, implies not only that he is eternal and
consequently that he is the wise and powerful Creator of angels and men, and even of the whole universe. This is the first particular, that God is. The second, that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, ascertains ttie providence and government of God, exemplified in its most eminent effect with regard to mankind; for providence extends further than this, and comprehends in it a constant preservation and support of all things visible and invisible, whether in heaven or earth, and ihe sovereign government and disposal of them. Mechanics, when they have completed houses, ships, and other works, they have been engaged in, leave them to take their fate in the world, and, for the most part, give themselves no further trouble about the accidents that
befall them; but the supreme Architect and wise Creator never forsakes the work of his hands, but keeps his arms continually about it to preserve