Gregory_of_NyssaThe creation of our nature is in a sense twofold: one made like to God, one divided according to this distinction.

For something like this Scripture darkly conveys by its arrangement, where it first says:

“God created man, in the image of God created He him” (Gen.1:27);

and then, adding to what has been said, “male and female created He them”—a thing which is alien from our conceptions of God.

[…] While two natures—the Divine and incorporeal nature, and the irrational life of brutes—are separated from each other as extremes, human nature is the mean between them.

For in the compound nature of man we may behold a part of each of the natures I have mentioned—

—of the Divine, the rational and intelligent element, which does not admit the distinction of male and female;

—of the irrational, our bodily form and structure, divided into male and female.

For each of these elements is certainly to be found in all that partakes of human life.

[…] God is in His own nature all that which our mind can conceive of good—rather, transcending all good that we can conceive or comprehend.

He creates man for no other reason than that He is good.

And, being such, and having this as His reason for entering upon the creation of our nature, He would not exhibit the power of His goodness in an imperfect form, giving our nature some one of the things at His disposal, and grudging it a share in another.

The perfect form of goodness is here to be seen by His both bringing man into being from nothing, and fully supplying him with all good gifts.

Since the list of individual good gifts is a long one, it is out of the question to apprehend it numerically.

The language of Scripture therefore expresses it concisely by a comprehensive phrase, in saying that man was made “in the image of God”.

This is the same as to say that He made human nature participant in all good.

For if the Deity is the fulness of good, and this is His image, then the image finds its resemblance to the Archetype in being filled with all good.

Thus there is in us the principle of all excellence, all virtue and wisdom, and every higher thing that we conceive.

But pre-eminent among all is the fact that we are free from necessity, and not in bondage to any natural power, but have decision in our own power as we please.

For virtue is a voluntary thing, subject to no dominion. That which is the result of compulsion and force cannot be virtue.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): On the Making of Man, 16, 8-11 (slightly adapted).

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