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Chapter XIV.—That Created Nature differs infinitely from Uncreated Being; to which Man makes the Nearest Approach by a Life of Virtue.

Surely it must be the very height of folly to compare created with eternal things, which latter have neither beginning nor end, while the former, having been originated and called into being, and having received a commencement of their existence at some definite time, must consequently, of necessity have an end. How then can things which have thus been made, bear comparison with him who has ordained their being? Were this the case,34393439    This is following with Heinichen, and meets the conjecture of Valesius as over against the mss. and other conjectures, which, substituting μανία for ὅμοια, read “for if it be madness to liken these things to him,” &c. the power to command their existence could not rightly be attributed to him. Nor can celestial things be compared to him, any more than the material34403440    Or “sensible”; i.e. world of sense or perception. with the intellectual34413441    This is the word often rendered by Bag. as “spiritual.” world, or copies with the models from which they are formed. Nay, is it not absurd thus to confound all things, and to obscure the honor of God by comparing him with men, or even with beasts? And is it not characteristic of madmen, utterly estranged from a life of sobriety and virtue, to affect a power equivalent to that of God? If indeed we in any sense aspire to blessedness like that of God, our duty is to lead a life according to his commandments: so shall we, having finished a course consistent with the laws which he has prescribed, dwell for ever superior to the power of fate, in eternal and undecaying mansions. For the only power in man which can be elevated to a comparison with that of God, is sincere and guileless service and devotion of heart to himself, with the contemplation and study of whatever pleases him, the raising our affections above the things of earth, and directing our thoughts, as far as we may, to high and heavenly objects: for from such endeavors, it is said, a victory accrues to us more valuable than 572many blessings.34423442    This is supposed to refer to Rev. ii. 7–10; iii. 11, &c. It might well have in mind Col. iii. 2–4, or best of all Rev. xxi. 7, as containing the thought of victory (νικ€ω = “overcome”). The cause, then, of that difference which subsists, as regards the inequality both of dignity and power in created beings, is such as I have described. In this the wise acquiesce with abundant thankfulness and joy: while those who are dissatisfied, display their own folly, and their arrogance will reap its due reward.

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