Concerning the Nature of Good, Against the Manichæans.[de natura boni contra manichæos].
circa A.D. 405.
translated by Albert H. Newman, D.D., LL.D., Professor of Church History and Comparative Religion, in Toronto Baptist (Theological) College, Toronto, Canada.
Published in 1886 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.
In One Book.Written after the year 404. It is put in the Retractations immediately after the De Actis cum Felice Manichæo, which was written about the end of the year 404. It is one of the most argumentative of the Anti-Manichæan treatises, and so one of the most abstruse and difficult. The lines of argument here pursued have already been employed in part in the earlier treatises. The most interesting portions of the contents of the treatise, and the most damaging to the Manichæans, are the long extracts from Mani's Thesaurus, and his Fundamental Epistle.--A.H.N.
Chapter 1.--God the Highest and Unchangeable Good, from Whom are All Other Good Things, Spiritual and Corporeal.The highest good, than which there is no higher, is God, and consequently He is unchangeable good, hence truly eternal and truly immortal. All other good things are only from Him, not of Him. For what is of Him, is Himself. And consequently if He alone is unchangeable, all things that He has made, because He has made them out of nothing, are changeable. For He is so omnipotent, that even out of nothing, that is out of what is absolutely non-existent, He is able to make good things both great and small, both celestial and terrestrial, both spiritual and corporeal. But because He is also just, He has not put those things that He has made out of nothing on an equality with that which He begat out of Himself. Because, therefore, no good things whether great or small, through whatever gradations of things, can exist except from God; but since every nature, so far as it is nature, is good, it follows that no nature can exist save from the most high and true God: because all things even not in the highest degree good, but related to the highest good, and again, because all good things, even those of most recent origin, which are far from the highest good, can have their existence only from the highest good. Therefore every spirit, though subject to change, and every corporeal entity, is from God, and all this, having been made, is nature. For every nature is either spirit or body. Unchangeable spirit is God, changeable spirit, having been made, is nature, but is better than body; but body is not spirit, unless when the wind, because it is invisible to us and yet its power is felt as something not inconsiderable, is in a certain sense called spirit.
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