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(161) THEY that were their guardian angels before were unable to defend in any way the subject nations now involved in - 181 - such a flood of evil. They took care of the rest of the created world. They guarded the other parts of the Cosmos, (b) and served according to their wont the will of God the Creator of all. But they did not realize the fall of mortal men through the undetermined human choice of evil. Wherefore a sickness great and hard to heal overcame all on the face of the earth, the nations being driven now one way now another by the evil spirits, and falling into a depthless abyss of evil. Yea, now some thought it good to feast on the bodies of their dearest, like wild beasts that devour the raw flesh of men, and to lie shamelessly with (c) mothers, sisters and daughters, to strangle their old men, and cast their bodies to the dogs and birds. Why should I recall the cruel and terrible human sacrifices of the "gods," I mean the evil daemons, into which they maddened the human race? I have dealt sufficiently with them previously in the Prolegomena to the present treatise. But it was when evils of such magnitude had fallen on the (d) whole world from the wicked and vile spirits and their king, and none of the guardian angels was able to defend them from the evils, that He, God the Word, the Saviour of the Universe, by the good will of His Father's love to man, that the human race so dear to Him might not be seethed in the gulf of sin, sent forth at last some few and watery rays of His own light to shine through the prophet Moses and the godly men before and after him, providing a cure for the evil in man by the holy Law. It is exactly this that the Word says to the race of the Hebrews when giving the law by Moses:
"Ye shall not do according to the devices of Egypt, (162) in which ye dwelt, and according to the devices of the land of Canaan, into which I bring you shall ye not do, and ye shall not walk in their ordinances, ye shall observe my judgments, and ye shall keep my ordinances. I am the Lord your God." [[Lev. xviii. 2.]]
"Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; (b) - 182 - for in all these things the nations were defiled, which I will drive out before you. And the land was polluted, and I have recompensed (their) iniquity upon it, and the land is aggrieved with them that dwell upon it."
And again, he says:
"And when thou shalt have entered into the land which the Lord thy God gives thee, thou shalt by no means learn to do according to the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found in thee one who purges his son or his daughter in the fire, one who uses divination, and who deals in the omens, a sorcerer using incantations, a divining spirit, an observer of auguries, a questioner of the dead. For every one that doeth these things is an abomination to the Lord thy God. For because of these abominations the Lord will destroy them from before thy face. Thou shalt be perfect before the Lord thy God."
These and many other holy teachings and commands God the Word gave to them of old by Moses, as delivering the elementary truths at the entry of the life of holiness, by means of symbols, and worship of a shadowy and external character, in bodily circumcision, and other things of that kind, which were completed on the earth. But since as time went on none of the prophets who succeeded Moses had the power to cure the evils of life owing to excess of wickedness, and the activity of the daemons daily waxed greater, so that even the Hebrew race was hurried along in the destruction of the godless, at last the Saviour and Physician of the Universe comes down Himself to men, bringing reinforcement to His angels for the salvation of men, since the Father had promised Him that He would give Him this boon, as He therefore teaches in the Psalms, when He says:
" 7. The Lord said to me, Thou art my Son, This day have I begotten thee, 8. Desire of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, And utmost parts of the earth for thy possession." - 183 -
And thus He no longer claimed as under His own authority just and clear-sighted Israel, nor His own proper portion only, but all the nations on the earth, which before were allotted to many angels, and were involved in all sorts of wickedness, and He came announcing to all the knowledge and love of His Father, and promising the remission and forgiveness of their former ignorance and sins, which He also announced clearly when He said: "The strong have no need of a physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." And He came, too, as overseer of His own angels, who were first set over the nations: and they at once very distinctly recognized their helper and Lord, and came gladly and ministered to Him, as the Holy Scripture teaches, saying: "And angels came and ministered to him," and when, too, "a multitude of the heavenly host praising God said, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill among men.' " These, then, as being His own angels He thus received, since they were in need of His help, but those that of old had flown around the pursuits of men, the malicious daemons who both visibly and invisibly had tyrannized over those on earth, and the tribes of wild and merciless spirits, with their leader in all evil, that cunning and baneful one He put to flight and subdued with mighty and divine power, as certain of them that recognized Him said: "What have we to do with thee, Son of God? Hast thou come to torment us before the time?"
And these by His deeds and words He mightily plagued, while He healed and cured the whole human race with the gentle and kind medicines of His words, and with the tonic of His teaching. He freed them from all sorts of sicknesses and suffering of body as well as soul, He set all that came to Him free from age-long superstition, and the fears of polytheistic error, and from a low and dissolute life. He converted and changed those who listened to Him from lust to purity, from impiety to piety, from injustice to justice, yea, verily from the power of the malicious daemons to the divine acceptance of true holiness. In addition to all this He threw open the gates of - 184 - heavenly life and of His holy teaching to all the nations of the world, and so greatly condescended, as not only to extend His saving hand to the sick and grievously afflicted, but also to save the half-dead from the very gates of death, and to loose from the bonds of death those who had been a long time dead and buried. And for this reason especially there was need for Him to be active, even as far as the resting-places of the dead, that He might be Lord not only of the living but of the dead as well.
So long, then, as He is with the Father, and steers the Providence of the Universe with divine power, the Divine Word and Wisdom and Power oversees and protects the heaven itself and the earth likewise, and the things by nature included in them, as well as the divine and unembodied essences beyond the heaven. He is their Ruler and Head and King, and is already hymned as God and Lord in the sacred oracles, and He gives light to the unembodied and purely rational natures. And He is called Sun of Righteousness, and the True Light, carrying out and co-operating in His leather's commands, wherefore He is also styled minister of the Father and Creator, but since He alone in His ordained rank knows how to serve God, and stands midway between the unbegotten God and the things after Him begotten, and has received the care of the Universe, and is Priest to the Father on behalf of all who are obedient, and alone shews Himself favourable and merciful to all, He is called as well Eternal High Priest, and also the Anointed (Christ) of the Father, for so among the Hebrews they were called Christs, who long ago symbolically presented a copy of the first (Christ). And when as Captain of the Angels He heads them, He is called: "The Angel of Great Counsel," and as Leader of the Armies of Heaven: "Captain of the Host of the Lord."
But now descending to our world, receiving our rational nature, for the sake of His own likeness to it by the goodwill of the Father, as He is like to rule over infants and as it were over the flocks, He is named Shepherd of the Sheep, while as promising to care for sick souls, He would rightly be called Saviour and Physician. And this of course is the meaning of the name "Jesus" in Hebrew. - 185 -
And since He needed a human organism, so that He could show Himself to men, and give true teaching of the knowledge of the Father and of holiness, He did not even refuse the way of the Incarnation; but assuming our nature in a moment He came among men, shewing the great Miracle to all of God in Man. So that He did not take command (b) imperceptibly and obscurely as a being without flesh or body, but seen by the very eyes of flesh, and allowing the eyes of men to see miracles even beyond the power of man, and moreover giving His teaching by tongue and articulate sound to the bodily ears, He manifested Himself—and truly it was a divine and miraculous thing, such as never before or since is recorded to have happened—the Saviour and the Benefactor, too, of all. So, then, God the Word was called the Son of Man, and was named Jesus, because He made His approach to us to cure and to heal the souls of men. And therefore in Hebrew the name Jesus is (c) interpreted Saviour. And He led the life which we lead, in no way forsaking the being that He had before, and ever in the Manhood retaining the Divinity.
Immediately, therefore, at the first moment of His descent among men, He mingles with God the divine glory of our human birth, for while He is born like us, and arrayed like men with mortality, yet as One Who is not man, but God, He is born into the phenomenal world from an undefiled and umvedded maiden, and not of sexual union and corruption.