St Cyril of Jerusalem: Have You Gained Knowledge of the Creator from Your Own Nature?

Feast of St Onesimus the Apostle of the 70

Cyril_Jerusalem_Square.jpgIT IS IMPOSSIBLE to examine closely into the nature of God; but, for His works which we see, we can offer Him praise and glory. I say these things to you because of the sequence of the Creed, and because we say: “We believe in One God, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible”; that we may remember that He who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the very same who made heaven and earth. [. . .]

From the variety of His workmanship, therefore, learn the power of the Creator. But perhaps you do not know [much about the natural world and the creatures that dwell therein]; you have nothing in common with the creatures outside of you. Then enter into yourself, and gain knowledge of the Creator from your own nature. What is there to blame in the constitution of your body? Be master of yourself and no evil proceeds from your members. From the beginning Adam was unclothed in paradise with Eve; but it was not because of his members that he deserved to be cast out. Therefore, the members are not the cause of sin, but they who abuse their members; and the Maker of the members is wise. Who prepared the recesses of the womb for child-bearing? Who gave life to the lifeless thing within it? “Who has knit us together with sinews and bones, and clothed us with skin and flesh” (cf. Job 11.11) and as soon as the child is born brings forth fountains of milk from the breasts? How does the babe grow into a boy, and the boy into a youth, and then into a man, and being the same, pass into an old man, though no one perceives the precise change from day to day? How is our food partly changed into blood, partly separated into waste matter, partly transformed into flesh? Who causes the heart to beat incessantly? Who so wisely guarded the soft eyes with the covering of eyelids? Regarding the intricate and marvelous structure of the eyes, the voluminous books of physicians hardly give an adequate explanation. Who imparts one and the same breath to the whole body? You see, then, the Artificer; you see the wise Creator.

My discourse has dealt at length on these points (passing over many, indeed countless, other matters, especially things corporeal and invisible), that you may loathe those who blaspheme the wise and good Artificer; and further, from what has been said and read and from what you can discover and ponder, that by analogy from the greatness and the beauty of created things (cf. Wisd. 13.5), you may have a concept of the Creator; and devoutly bending the knee before the Maker of the universe, of things sensible and intelligible, visible and invisible, with grateful and pious tongue, with unwearied lips you may praise God, saying: “How manifold are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you have wrought them all” (Ps. 103.24): for to Thee is due honor, glory, and majesty, now and forever and ever. Amen.

—St Cyril of Jerusalem, Lenten Lectures

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