AthanasiusGod has not only made us out of nothing; but He gave us freely, by the Grace of the Word, a life in correspondence with God.

But men, having rejected things eternal, and, by counsel of the devil, turned to the things of corruption, became the cause of their own corruption in death.

They were by nature corruptible, but were destined – by the grace following from partaking of the Word – to have escaped their natural state had they remained good.

For because of the Word dwelling with them, even their natural corruption did not come near them, as Wisdom also says:

“God made man for incorruption, and as an image of His own eternity; but by envy of the devil death came into the world” (Wisd. 2:23).

But when this was come to pass, men began to die, while corruption thenceforward prevailed against them, gaining even more than its natural power over the whole race, inasmuch as it had, owing to the transgression of the commandment, the threat of the Deity as a further advantage against them.

[…] With having gained upon men, and with corruption abiding upon them, the race of man was perishing. The rational man made in God’s image was disappearing, and the handiwork of God was in process of dissolution.

[…] It  was monstrous, firstly, that God, having spoken, should prove false—that, when once He had ordained that man, if he transgressed the commandment, should die, after the transgression man should not die, but God’s word should be broken. For God would not be true, if, when He had said we should die, man died not.

Again, it was unseemly that creatures once made rational, and having partaken of the Word, should go to ruin, and turn again toward non-existence by the way of corruption.

For it were not worthy of God’s goodness that the things He had made should waste away, because of the deceit practised on men by the devil.

[…] Especially it was unseemly to the last degree that God’s handicraft among men should be done away, either because of their own carelessness, or because of the deceitfulness of evil spirits.

So, as the rational creatures were wasting and such works in course of ruin, what was God in His goodness to do? Suffer corruption to prevail against them and death to hold them fast?

And where were the profit of their having been made, to begin with? For better were they not made, than once made, left to neglect and ruin.

[…] It was, then, out of the question to leave men to the current of corruption; because this would be unseemly, and unworthy of God’s goodness.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 5 & 6 [slightly adapted].

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