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The Gnostic Society Library

Thrice-Greatest Hermes - Volume 2

by G.R.S. Mead

3. [IV. M.] Asc. What, then, Thrice-greatest one, has caused it that man should be planted in the world, and should not pass his life in highest happiness in that part [of the universe] where there is God?

[Tris.] Rightly thou questionest, O [my] Asclepius! And we pray God that He bestow on us the power of setting forth this reason; since everything depends upon His Will, and specially those things that are set forth about the Highest Whole, the Reason that’s the object of our present argument. Hear, then, Asclepius!


1. The Lord and Maker of all things, whom we call rightly God, when from Himself He made the second [God], the Visible and Sensible, 1—I call him Sensible not that He hath sensation in Himself (for as to this, whether or no He have himself sensation, we will some other time declare), but that He is the object of the senses of those who see;—when, then, He made Him first, but second to Himself, and that He seemed

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to Him [most] fair, as one filled to the full with goodness of all things, He fell in love with Him as being part of His Divinity. 1

2. Accordingly, in that He was so mighty and so fair, He willed that some one else should have the power to contemplate the One He had made from Himself. And thereon He made man,—the imitator of His Reason and His Love. 2

The Will of God is in itself complete accomplishment; inasmuch as together with His having willed, in one and the same time He hath brought it to full accomplishment.

And so, when He perceived that the “essential” 3 [man] could not be lover 4 of all things, unless He clothed him in a cosmic carapace, He shut him in within a house of body,—and ordered it that all [men] should be so,—from either nature making him a single blend and fair-proportioned mixture.

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3. Therefore hath He made man of soul and body,—that is, of an eternal and a mortal nature; so that an animal thus blended can content his dual origin,—admire and worship things in heaven, and cultivate and govern things on earth. 1

By mortal things 2 I do not mean the water or the earth [themselves], for these are two of the [immortal] elements that nature hath made subject unto men,—but [either] things that are by men, or [that are] in or from them 3; such as the cultivation of the earth itself, pastures, [and] buildings, harbours, voyagings, intercommunications, mutual services, which are the firmest bonds of men between themselves and that part of the Cosmos which consists [indeed] of water and of earth, [but is] the Cosmos’ terrene part,—which is preserved by knowledge and the use of arts and sciences; without which [things] God willeth not Cosmos should be complete. 4

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In that necessity doth follow what seems good to God; performance waits upon His will.

Nor is it credible that that which once hath pleased Him, will become unpleasing unto God; since He hath known both what will be, and what will please Him, long before.


320:1 Sc. the Logos as Cosmos. Cf. xxxi. 1 below.

321:1 The Greek original of this passage is quoted by Lactantius, Div. Institt., iv. 6, and runs as follows in Fritzsche’s (O. F.) text (Leipzig, 1842):

“The Lord and Maker of all things (whom ’tis our custom to call God) when He had made the second God, the Visible and Sensible,—I call him Sensible not that He hath sensation in Himself (for as to this, whether or no He have himself sensation, we will some other time enquire), but that He is object of senses and of mind;—when, then, He’d made Him first, and One and Only, He seemed to Him most fair, and filled quite full of all things good. At Him He marvelled, and loved Him altogether as His Son.” With the last words, cf. Plat., Tim., 37 D.

321:2 Diligentiæ.

321:3 The Greek οὐσιώδης being again, as in vii. 2, retained in the Latin. Cf. C. H., i. 15 and ix. (x.) 5.

321:4 Diligentem.

322:1 This sentence is also quoted by Lactantius (Div. Institt., vii. 13) in the original Greek, which reads:

“From the two natures, the deathless and the mortal, He made one nature,—that of man, one and the selfsame thing. And having made the selfsame [man] both somehow deathless and also somehow mortal, He brought him [forth], and set him up betwixt the godlike and immortal nature and the mortal; that seeing all he might wonder at all.”

322:2 That is, the “things on earth.”

322:3 That is, the two elements mentioned.

322:4 The above paragraph seems to have been very imperfectly translated into Latin.

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