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The Works of Dionysius the Areopagite, tr. by John Parker, [1897], at


Concerning Life.


Now let us sing the Eternal Life, from which comes the self-existing Life, and every life; and from which, to all things however partaking of life, is distributed the power to live appropriately to each. Certainly the life; and the immortality of the immortal Angels, and the very indestructibility of the angelic perpetual motion, both is, and is sustained from It, and by reason of It. Wherefore, they are also called living always and immortal; and again, not immortal, because not from themselves have they their immortality and eternal life; but from the vivifying Cause forming and sustaining all life; and as we said of Him, Who is, that He is Age even of the self-existing Being, so also here again (we say) that the Divine Life, which is above life, is p. 84 life-giving and sustaining even of the self-existing Life; and every life and life-giving movement is from the Life which is above every life, and all source of all life. From It, even the souls have their indestructibility, and all living creatures, and plants in their most remote echo of life, have their power to live. And when It is "taken away," according to the Divine saying, all life fails, and to It even things that have failed, through their inability to participate in It, when again returning, again become living creatures.


And It gives chiefly to the self-existing Life to be a life, and to every life, and to the individual life, that each should be conformable to that which nature intended it to be. And to the supercelestial lives It gives the immaterial and godlike, and unchangeable immortality; and the unswerving and undeviating perpetual movement; whilst extending Itself through excess of goodness, even to the life of demons 47 . For, neither has this its being from another cause, but from It life has both its being and its continuance. Further, It bequeaths even to men the angelic life, so far as is possible to compound being, and through an overflowing love towards man turns, and calls us back to Itself, even when we are departing from It; and, what is still more Divine, promises to transfer even our whole selves (I mean souls, and bodies their yoke-fellows), to a perfect life p. 85 and immortality;--a fact which perhaps seems to Antiquity contrary to nature, but to me, and to thee, and to the truth, both Divine and above nature. But, by "above nature," I understand our visible nature, not the all-powerful nature of the Divine Life. For, to this, as being nature of all the living creatures, and especially the more Divine, no life is against nature, or above nature. So that the contradictory statements of Simon’s folly on this matter, let them be far repelled from a Divine assembly, and from thy reverent soul. For this escaped him, as I imagine, whilst thinking to be wise, that the right-thinking man ought not to use the visible reason of the sensible perception, as an ally against the invisible Cause of all; and this must be our reply to him, that his statement is against nature, for to It nothing is contrary.


From It, both all living creatures and plants draw their life and nourishment; and whether you speak of intellectual, or rational, or sensible, or nourishing, or growing, or whatever, life, or source of life, or essence of life, from It, which is above every life, it both lives and thrives; and in It, as Cause, uniformly pre-existed. For the super-living, and life-springing Life is Cause both of all life, and is generative, and completive, and dividing of life, and is to be celebrated from every life, in consequence of its numerous generation of all lives, as Manifold, and contemplated, and sung by every life; and as p. 86 without need, yea, rather, superfull of life, the Self-living, and above every life, causing to live and super-living, or in whatever way one might extol the life which is unutterable by human speech.


84:47 Rom. xi. 29, "For the gifts of God are without repentance."

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