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Section V

V. In such important particulars are animals superior to plants. Let us now therefore see in what man is superior to the other animals. He now has received as an especial and pre-eminent honour, the gift of intellect, by which he is accustomed to comprehend the natures of all things, whether they be bodies or things; for as the predominant part in the body is the sight, and as the nature of light is the most important part of the universe, so in the same manner the most important and influential of all the parts in us is the mind; for this is the light of the soul, being irradiated and enlightened by its own beams, by which that dense and profound darkness, ignorance of facts which was shed around it, is dissipated. And this portion of the soul is not composed of the same elements as those of which the other parts are made, but it has a pure and more excellent essence, from which the divine natures were made; on which account the intellect alone, of all the parts within us, appears very reasonably and naturally to be imperishable, for that is the only portion which the Father who generated it has thought worthy of freedom, and loosing the bands of necessity, he has allowed it to roam at large without restraint, having endowed it with a share of his own most glorious and becoming attribute, freewill, the highest present which it was able to receive. For the other animals in whose souls there does not exist that intellect which is thus especially appropriated to freedom, have been given up to them to submit to their yoke and to receive their bridle in their mouths, so as to serve them as servants obey their masters. But man having a spontaneous will, subject to no promptings but those of his own nature, and exerting his energies in accordance with his own deliberate purpose, is very properly subject to blame for whatever unjust actions he commits from deliberate intention, and to praise for all the good deeds which he intentionally performs; for as he has received from God a power of voluntary motion, and as he is in this respect like unto God himself, being delivered from all subservience to that most severe and grievous mistress, necessity, he very properly is open to accusation when he does not pay worship to that being who has thus delivered him. Therefore he will most justly in such a case suffer the punishment which has been inexorably pronounced against ungrateful people who do not deserve freedom. On which account also, the body being raised up towards the purest portion of the universe, the heaven, raises its eyes upwards, that so by an observation of what is visible, it may arrive at an adequate comprehension of what is invisible. Since, therefore, it would be impossible to behold the attraction of the intellect towards the living God, excepting as far as those who are attracted towards him can themselves perceive it, for each man in an individual and especial degree knows what happens to himself, he has made a visible image of the invisible eye, namely, the eyes of the body which are thus able to look towards the sky. For when the eyes, which are made of perishable materials, have gone to such heights as even to soar upwards to the heaven which is removed to such an immense distance from the regions of the earth, and to touch its borders, to how great a distance must we not suppose that the eyes of the soul can reach? which, being excited by a vehement desire to see the one Being clearly and distinctly, stretch forward not only to the furthest extremity of the sky, but, leaving beneath them the boundaries of the universal world, hasten onwards to the uncreated.

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