Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume V/Novatian/A Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity/Part 8
Chapter VIII. Argument.—It is This God, Therefore, that the Church Has Known and Adores; And to Him the Testimony of Things as Well Visible as Invisible is Given Both at All Times and in All Forms, by the Nature Which His Providence Rules and Governs.
This God, then, setting aside the fables and figments of heretics, the Church knows and worships, to whom the universal and entire nature of things as well visible as invisible gives witness; whom angels adore, stars wonder at, seas bless, lands revere, and all things under the earth look up to; whom the whole mind of man is conscious of, even if it does not express itself; at whose command all things are set in motion, springs gush forth, rivers flow, waves arise, all creatures bring forth their young, winds are compelled to blow, showers descend, seas are stirred up, all things everywhere diffuse their fruitfulness. Who ordained, peculiar to the protoplasts of eternal life, a certain beautiful paradise in the east; He planted the tree of life, and similarly placed near it another tree of the knowledge of good and evil, gave a command, and decreed a judgment against sin; He preserved the most righteous Nöe from the perils of the deluge, for the merit of His innocence and faith; He translated Enoch: He elected Abraham into the society of his friendship; He protected Isaac: He increased Jacob; He gave Moses for a leader unto the people; He delivered the groaning children of Israel from the yoke of slavery; He wrote the law; He brought the offspring of our fathers into the land of promise; He instructed the prophets by His Spirit, and by all of them He promised His Son Christ; and at the time at which He had covenanted that He would give Him, He sent Him, and through Him He desired to come into our knowledge, and shed forth upon us the liberal stores of His mercy, by conferring His abundant Spirit on the poor and abject. And, because He of His own free-will is both liberal and kind, lest the whole of this globe, being turned away from the streams of His grace, should wither, He willed the apostles, as founders of our family, to be sent by His Son into the whole world, that the condition of the human race might be conscious of its Founder; and, if it should choose to follow Him, might have One whom even in its supplications it might now call Father instead of God. And His providence has had or has its course among men, not only individually, but also among cities themselves, and states whose destructions have been announced by the words of prophets; yea, even through the whole world itself; whose end, whose miseries, and wastings, and sufferings on account of unbelief He has allotted. And lest moreover any one should think that such an indefatigable providence of God does not reach to even the very least things, “One of two sparrows,” says the Lord, “shall not fall without the will of the Father; but even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” And His care and providence did not permit even the clothes of the Israelites to be worn out, nor even the vilest shoes on their feet to be wasted; nor, moreover, finally, the very garments of the captive young men to be burnt. And this is not without reason; for if He embraces all things, and contains all things,—and all things, and the whole, consist of individuals,—His care will consequently extend even to every individual thing, since His providence reaches to the whole, whatever it is. Hence it is that He also sitteth above the Cherubim; that is, He presides over the variety of His works, the living creatures which hold the control over the rest being subjected to His throne: a crystal covering being thrown over all things; that is, the heaven covering all things, which at the command of God had been consolidated into a firmament from the fluent material of the waters, that the strong hardness that divides the midst of the waters that covered the earth before, might sustain as if on its back the weight of the superincumbent water, its strength being established by the frost. And, moreover, wheels lie below—that is to say, the seasons—whereby all the members of the world are always being rolled onwards; such feet being added by which those things do not stand still for ever, but pass onward. And, moreover, throughout all their limbs they are studded with eyes; for the works of God must be contemplated with an ever watchful inspection: in the heart of which things, a fire of embers is in the midst, either because this world of ours is hastening to the fiery day of judgment; or because all the works of God are fiery, and are not darksome, but flourish. Or, moreover, lest, because those things had arisen from earthly beginnings, they should naturally be inactive, from the rigidity of their origin, the hot nature of an interior spirit was added to all things; and that this nature concreted with the cold bodies might minister for the purpose of life equal measures for all. This, therefore, according to David, is God’s chariot. “For the chariot of God,” says he, “is multiplied ten thousand times;” that is, it is innumerable, infinite, immense. For, under the yoke of the natural law given to all things, some things are restrained, as if withheld by reins; others, as if stimulated, are urged on with relaxed reins. For the world, which is that chariot of God with all things, both the angels themselves and the stars guide; and their movements, although various, yet bound by certain laws, we watch them guiding by the bounds of a time prescribed to themselves; so that rightly we also are now disposed to exclaim with the apostle, as he admires both the Architect and His works: “Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how inscrutable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!” And the rest.
- [Madame de Staël has beautifully remarked on the benefit conferred upon humanity by Him who authorized us to say,“ Our Father.” “Scientific” atheism gives nothing instead.]
- Matt. x. 29, 30.
- [Ezek. i. 10 and Rev. iv. 7.]
- [The science of the third century had overruled the Pythagorean system, and philosophers bound the Church and the human mind in the chains of false science for ages. The revival of true science was due to Copernicus, a Christian priest, and to Galileo, and other Christians. Let this be noted.]
- “Vigent,” or otherwise “lucent.”
- “Ministraret” seems to be preferable to “monstraret.”
- [Our author’s genius actually suggests a theory, in this chapter, concerning the zoa, or “living creatures,” which anticipates all that is truly demonstrated by the “evolutionists,” and which harmonizes the variety of animated natures. Rev. v. 13, 14.]
- Ps. lxviii. 18.
- [The universe is here intended, as in Milton, “this pendent world.” Parad. Lost, book ii. 1052.]
- Rom. xi. 33. “Note also the rest of the text” is our author’s additional comment.