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Chapter 38.—Nature Made by God; Corruption Comes from Nothing.

44.  In this way, though corruption is an p. 149 evil, and though it comes not from the Author of natures, but from their being made out of nothing, still, in God’s government and control over all that He has made, even corruption is so ordered that it hurts only the lowest natures, for the punishment of the condemned, and for the trial and instruction of the returning, that they may keep near to the incorruptible God, and remain incorrupt, which is our only good; as is said by the prophet, "But it is good for me that I keep near to God." 288   And you must not say, God did not make corruptible natures:  for, as far as they are natures, God made them; but as far as they are corruptible, God did not make them:  for corruption cannot come from Him who alone is incorruptible.  If you can receive this, give thanks to God; if you cannot, be quiet and do not condemn what you do not yet understand, but humbly wait on Him who is the light of the mind that thou mayest know.  For in the expression "corruptible nature" there are two words, and not one only.  So, in the expression, God made out of nothing, "God" and "nothing" are two separate words.  Render therefore to each of these words that which belongs to each, so that the word "nature" may go with the word "God,"and the word "corruptible" with the word "nothing."  And yet even the corruptions, though they have not their origin from God, are to be overruled by Him in accordance with the order of inanimate things and the deserts of His intelligent creatures.  Thus we say rightly that reward and punishment are both from God.  For God’s not making corruption is consistent with His giving over to corruption the man who deserves to be corrupted, that is, who has begun to corrupt himself by sinning, that he who has wilfully yielded to the allurements of corruption may, against his will, suffer its pains.



Ps. lxxiii. 28.

Next: Chapter 39