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To the Holy Trinity: The Purest Image in the Rational Creature

Reasoning on in Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, 2, 4:

All of this is dead: the sun, its rays, its heat: a seal, its expression, an image either sculpted or painted. A mirror and the resemblances which object produce are dead things: God made an image most alive from his eternal and pure generation; and, to the end that we would be the most known, it is in ourselves that he has made it.

He did it, when he said: Let us make man. He wanted to do something where the work of his son was declared, otherwise himself, then he said: Let us make. He wanted to make something which would be living like him, intelligent like him, holy like him, happy like him: otherwise, one would not know how to understand: Let us make man in our image and likeness. In our image, in the depths of his nature; in our likeness, by the conformity of his works with ours eternal and indivisible.

It is by the result of this word: Let us make man in our image, that man thinks; and to think is to conceive: all thought is conception and expression of something: all thought is expression and by it a conception of the one who thinks it, if he who thinks to himself and hears himself; and, it would be a perfect conception and expression, eternal, substantial, if he who thinks be perfect, eternal, and if he be by his nature all substance, having nothing accidental in himself, neither anything which could be altered by his pure and unalterable intelligence.

Thus God, who thinks substantially, perfectly, eternally, and who does not think, or can only think to himself, in thinking, conceives something substantial, perfect and eternal like himself: his birth, his eternal and perfect generation is there. Because the divine nature knows nothing imperfect; and there, conception cannot be separated from birth. It is thus that God is Father; it is thus that he gives birth to a Son who is equal to him; it is this eternal and perfect fertility whose excellence has swept us away, from the time when we are under the guidance of faith, we have dared to take our thought. To conceive and give birth in this way, it is to be the perfection of the original: and, to conceive and give birth as we do in our imperfect way, it is to be made in the image and likeness of God.

We can thus answer now to Solomon’s question: Tell us his name and the name of his Son, if you can. We can now do it as he has taught us. His name is the Logos, the word: not a foreign or accidental word, God knows nothing of the kind; but a word which is in him a subsistent, cooperating, co-creating person, composing and arranging all things with him, as the same Solomon says: a person which did not begin, as Saint John says: In the beginning she was: a person who is one with God, then, says the same Saint John, she is God  and that God is essentially one: a person who is nevertheless distinct from God, and then, continues the same Apostle, she is in God, with God, at God’s home, apud Deum: his only Son which is in his womb, in sinu Patris, which he sends to the world, which he makes to appear in the flesh as the only Son of God.  Here is his name: it is the Logos, it is the word: the word, I say, by which an eternal and perfect God says to himself by himself all which he is, and conceives, generates and gives birth to all which he says, by consequence giving birth to a perfect, a co-eternal, co-essential and consubstantial being. Let us not find this mystery unworthy of God, as he does not attribute anything to himself which is not perfect; let us not find it unbelievable that God would show the mystery of his eternal generation to those whom he made to resemble him, in whom he had impressed a weak image of this eternal and perfect work. Let us be attentive to ourselves, to our conception, to our thought; we will find there an idea of this immaterial, incorporeal, pure and spiritual generation which the Gospel has revealed to us. Without this revelation, who would dare to cast his eyes on this admirable secret of God? But after faith, we not only dare to contemplate it, but to see in ourselves an image; we dare in some way to project into God this concept of our spirit and strip it of all alteration, of all change, of all imperfection. After this, nothing is left but the pure, perfect, incorporeal, intellectual birth of the Son of God; and, in his Father, a fertility worthy of the first being, by plentitude, by superabundance, by the infinity of a perfect and perfectly communicative nature, not only outside where all produced degenerates into infinity, because at the bottom, it comes from nothing and cannot lose the baseness of its origin; but also in itself where all which is produced of his substance and all his substance, is by necessity equal in all to him.


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