The creation of terrestrial animals. 

    1. How did you like the fare of my morning's discourse? It seemed to me 
that I had the good intentions of a poor giver of a feast, who, ambitious of 
having the credit of keeping a good table saddens his guests by the poor 
supply of the more expensive dishes. In vain he lavishly covers his table with 
his mean fare; his ambition only shows his folly. It is for you to judge if I 
have shared the same fate. Yet, whatever my discourse may have been, take care 
lest you disregard it. No one refused to sit at the table of Elisha; and yet 
he only gave his friends wild vegetables.  I know the laws of allegory, 
though less by myself than from the works of others. There are those truly, 
who do not admit the common sense of the Scriptures, for whom water is not 
water, but some other nature, who see in a plant, in a fish, what their fancy 
wishes, who change the nature of reptiles and of wild beasts to suit their 
allegories, like the interpreters of dreams who explain visions in sleep to 
snake them serve their own ends. For me grass is grass; plant, fish, wild 
beast, domestic animal, I take all in the literal sense.  "For I am not 
ashamed of the gospel."  Those who have written about the nature of the 
universe have discussed at length the shape of the earth. If it be spherical 
or cylindrical, if it resemble a disc and is equally rounded in all parts, or 
if it has the forth of a winnowing basket and is hollow in the middle;  all 
these conjectures have been suggested by cosmographers, each one upsetting 
that of his predecessor. It will not lead me to give less importance to the 
creation of the universe, that the servant of God, Moses, is silent as to 
he has not said that the earth is a hundred and eighty thousand furlongs in 
circumference; he has not measured into what extent of air its shadow projects 
itself whilst the sun revolves around it, nor stated how this shadow, casting 
itself upon the moon, produces eclipses. He has passed over in silence, as 
useless, all that is unimportant for us. Shall I then prefer foolish wisdom to 
the oracles of the Holy Spirit? Shall I not rather exalt Him who, not wishing 
to fill our minds with these vanities, has regulated all the economy of 
Scripture in view of the edification and the making perfect of our souls? It 
is this which those seem to me not to have understood, who, giving themselves 
up to the distorted meaning of allegory, have undertaken to give a majesty of 
their own invention to Scripture. It is to believe themselves wiser than the 
Holy Spirit, and to bring forth their own ideas under a pretext of exegesis. 
Let us hear Scripture as it has been written. 

    2. "Let the earth bring forth thee living creature."  Behold the word of 
God pervading creation, beginning even then the efficacy which is seen 
displayed to-day, and will be displayed to the end of the world! As a ball, 
which one pushes, if it meet a declivity, descends, carried by its form and 
the nature of the ground and does not stop until it has reached a level 
surface; so nature, once put in motion by the Divine command,  traverses 
creation with an equal step, through birth and death, and keeps up the 
succession of kinds through resemblance, to the last.  Nature always makes a 
horse succeed to a horse, a lion to a lion, an eagle to an eagle, and 
preserving each animal by these uninterrupted successions she transmits it to 
the end of all things. Animals do not see their peculiarities destroyed or 
effaced by any length of time; their nature, as though it had been just 
constituted, follows the course of ages, for ever young.  "Let the earth 
bring forth the living creature." This command has continued and earth does 
not cease to obey the Creator. For, if there are creatures which are 
successively produced by their predecessors, there are others that even to-day 
we see born from the earth itself. In wet weather she brings forth 
grasshoppers and an immense number of insects which fly in the air and have no 
names because they are so small; she also produces mice and frogs. In the 
environs of Thebes in Egypt, after abundant rain in hot weather, the country 
is covered with field mice.  We see mud alone produce eels; they do not 
proceed from an egg, nor in any other manner; it is the earth alone which 
gives them birth.  Let the earth produce a living creature." 

    Cattle are terrestrial and bent towards the earth. Man, a celestial 
growth, rises superior to them as much by the mould of his bodily conformation 
as by the dignity of his soul. What is the form of quadrupeds? Their head is 
bent towards the earth and looks towards their belly, and only pursues their 
belly's good. Thy head, O man! is turned towards heaven; thy eyes look up.  
When therefore thou degradest thyself by the passions of the flesh, slave of 
thy belly, and thy  lowest parts, thou approachest animals without reason and 
becomest like one of them.  Thou art called' to more noble cares; "seek 
those things which are above where Christ sitteth."  Raise thy soul above 
the earth; draw from its natural conformation the rule of thy conduct; fix thy 
conversation in heaven. Thy true country is the heavenly Jerusalem;  thy 
fellow-citizens and thy compatriots are "the first-born which are written in 

   3. "Let the earth bring forth the living creature. Thus when the soul of 
brutes appeared it was not concealed in the earth, but it was born by the 
command of God. Brutes have one and the same soul of which the common 
characteristic is absence of reason. But each animal is distinguished by 
peculiar qualities. The ox is steady, the ass is lazy, the horse has strong 
passions, the wolf cannot be tamed, the fox is deceitful, the stag timid, the 
ant industrious, the dog grateful and faithful in his friendships. As each 
animal was created the distinctive character of his nature appeared in him in 
due measure; in the lion spirit, taste for solitary life, an unsociable 
character. True tyrant of animals, he, in his natural arrogance, admits but 
few to share his honours. He disdains his yesterday's food and never returns
to the remains of the prey. Nature has provided his organs of voice with 
such great force that often much swifter animals are caught by his roaring 
alone. The panther, violent and impetuous in his leaps, has a body fitted for 
his activity and lightness, in accord with the movements of his soul. The bear 
has a sluggish nature, ways of its own, a sly character, and is very secret; 
therefore it has an analogous body, heavy, thick, without articulations such 
as are necessary for a cold dweller in dens. 

    When we consider the natural and innate care that these creatures without 
reason take of their lives we shall be induced to watch over ourselves and to 
think of the salvation of our souls; or rather we shall be the more condemned 
when we are found falling short even of the imitation of brutes. The bear, 
which often gets severely wounded, cares for himself and cleverly fills the 
wounds with mullein, a plant whose nature is very astringent. You will also 
see the fox heal his wounds with droppings from the pine tree; the tortoise, 
gorged with the flesh of the viper, finds in the virtue of marjoram a specific 
against this venomous animal  and the serpent heals sore eyes by eating 

    And is not reasoning intelligence eclipsed by animals in their provision 
for atmospheric changes? Do we not see sheep, when winter is approaching, 
devouring grass with avidity as if to make provision for future scarcity? Do 
we not also see oxen, long confined in the winter season, recognise the return 
of spring by a natural sensation, and look to the  end of their stables 
towards the doors, all turning their heads there by common consent? Studious 
observers have remarked that the hedgehog makes an opening at the two 
extremities of his hole. If the wind from the north is going to blow he shuts 
up the aperture which looks towards the north; if the south wind succeeds it 
the animal passes to the northern door.  What lesson do these animals teach 
man? They not only show us in our Creator a care which extends to all beings, 
but a certain presentiment of future even in brutes. Then we ought not to 
attach ourselves to this present life and ought to give all heed to that which 
is to come. Will you not be industrious for yourself, O man? And will you not 
lay up in the present age rest in that which is to come, after having seen the 
example of the ant? The ant during summer collects treasures for winter. Far 
from giving itself up to idleness, before this season has made it feel its 
severity, it hastens to work with an invincible zeal until it has abundantly 
filled its storehouses. Here again, how far it is from being negligent! With 
what wise foresight it manages so as to keep its provisions as long as 
possible! With its pincers it cuts the grains in half, for fear lest they 
should germinate and not serve for its food. If they are damp it dries them; 
and it does not spread them out in all weathers, but when it feels that the 
air will keep of a mild temperature. Be sure that you will never see rain fall 
from the clouds so long as the ant has left the grain out.  

    What language can attain to the marvels of the Creator? What ear could 
understand them? And what time would be sufficient to relate them? Let us say, 
then, with the prophet, "O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast 
thou made them all."  We shall not be able to say in self-justification, 
that we have learnt useful knowledge in books, since the untaught law of 
nature makes us choose that which is advantageous to us. Do you know what good 
you ought to do your neighbour? The good that you expect from him yourself. Do 
you know what is evil? That which you would not wish another to do to you. 
Neither botanical researches nor the experience of simples have made animals 
discover those which are useful to them; but each knows naturally what is 
salutary and marvellously appropriates what suits its nature. 

    4. Virtues exist in us also by nature, and the soul has affinity with them 
not by education, but by nature herself. We do not need lessons to hate 
illness, but by ourselves we repel what afflicts us, the soul has no need of a 
master to teach us to avoid vice. Now all vice is a sickness of the sold as 
virtue is its health. Thus those have defined health well who have called it a 
regularity in the discharge of natural functions; a definition that can be 
applied without fear to the good condition of the soul. Thus, without having 
need of lessons, the soul can attain by herself to what is fit and conformable 
to nature.  Hence it 
comes that temperance everywhere is praised, justice is in honour, courage 
admired, and prudence the object of all aims; virtues which concern the soul 
more than health concerns the body. Children love  your parents, and you, 
"parents provoke not your children to wrath."  Does not nature say the same? 
Paul teaches us nothing new; he only tightens the links of nature. If the 
lioness loves her cubs, if the she wolf fights to defend her little ones, what 
shall man say who is unfaithful to the precept and violates nature herself; or 
the son who insults the old age of his father; or the father whose second 
marriage has made him forget his first children? 

    With animals invincible affection unites parents with children. It is the 
Creator, God Himself, who substitutes the strength of feeling for reason in 
them. From whence it comes that a lamb as it bounds from the fold, in the 
midst of a thousand sheep recognises the colour and the voice of its mother, 
runs to her, and seeks its own sources of milk. If its mother's udders are 
dry, it is content, and, without stopping, passes by more abundant ones. And 
how does the mother recognise it among the many lambs? All have the same 
voice, the same colour, the same smell, as far at least as regards our sense 
of smell. Yet there is in these animals a more subtle sense than our 
perception which makes them recognise their own.    The little dog has as 
yet no teeth, nevertheless he defends himself with his mouth against any one 
who teases him. The calf has as yet no horns, nevertheless he already knows 
where his weapons will grow.  Here we have evident proof that the instinct 
of animals is innate, and that in all beings there is nothing disorderly, 
nothing unforeseen. All bear the marks of the wisdom of the Creator, and show 
that they have come to life with the means of assuring their preservation. 

    The dog is not gifted with a share of reason; but with him instinct has 
the power of reason. The dog has learnt by nature the secret of elaborate 
inferences, which sages of the world, after long years of study, have hardly 
been able to disentangle. When the dog is on the track of game, if he sees it 
divide in different directions, he examines these different paths, and speech 
alone fails him to announce his reasoning. The creature, he says, is gone here 
or there or in another direction. It is neither here nor there; it is 
therefore in the third direction. And thus, neglecting the false tracks, he 
discovers the true one. What more is done by those who, gravely occupied in 
demonstrating theories, trace lines upon the dust and reject two propositions 
to show that the third is the true one?  

    Does not the gratitude of the dog shame all who are ungrateful to their 
benefactors? Many are said to have fallen dead by their murdered masters in 
lonely places. Others, when a crime has just been committed, have led those 
who were searching for the murderers, and have caused the criminals to be 
brought to justice. What will those say who, not content with not loving the 
Master who has created them and nourished them, have for their friends men 
whose mouth attacks the Lord, sitting at the same table with them, and, whilst 
partaking of their food, blaspheme Him who has given it to them? 

    5. But let us return to the spectacle of creation. The easiest animals to 
catch are the most productive. It is on account of this that hares and wild 
goats produce many little ones, and that wild sheep have twins, for fear lest 
these species should disappear, consumed by carnivorous animals. Beasts of 
prey, on the contrary, produce only a few and a lioness with difficulty gives 
birth to one lion;  because, if they say truly, the cub issues from its 
mother by tearing her with its claws; and vipers are only born by gnawing 
through the womb, inflicting a proper punishment on their mother.  Thus in 
nature all has been foreseen, all is the object of continual care. If you 
examine the members even of animals, you will find that the Creator has given 
them nothing superfluous, that He has omitted nothing that is necessary. To 
carnivorous animals He has given pointed teeth which their nature requires for 
their support. Those that are only half furnished with teeth have received 
several distinct receptacles for their food. As it is not broken up enough in 
the first, they are gifted with the power of returning it after it has been 
swallowed, and it does not assimilate until it has been crushed by rumination. 
The first, second, third, and fourth stomachs of ruminating animals do not 
remain idle; each one of them fulfils a necessary function.  The neck of the 
camel is long so that it may lower it to its feet and reach the grass on which 
it feeds. Bears, lions, tigers, all animals of this sort, have short necks 
buried in their shoulders; it is because they do not live upon grass and have 
no need to bend down to the earth; they are carnivorous and eat the animals 
upon whom they prey. 

    Why has the elephant a trunk? This enormous creature, the greatest of 
terrestrial animals, created for the terror of those who meet it, is naturally 
huge and fleshy. If its neck was large and in proportion to its feet it would 
be difficult to direct, and would be of such an excessive weight that it would 
make it lean towards the earth. As it is, its head is attached to the spine of 
the back by short vertebrae and it has its trunk to take the place of a neck, 
and with it it picks up its food and draws up its drink. Its feet, without 
joints,  like united columns, support the weight of its body. If it were 
supported on lax and flexible legs, its joints would constantly give way, 
equally incapable of supporting its weight, should it wish either to kneel or 
rise. But it has under the foot a little ankle joint which takes the place of 
the leg and knee joints whose mobility would never have resisted this enormous 
and swaying mass. Thus it had need of this nose which nearly touches its feet. 
Have you seen them in war marching at the head of the phalanx, like living 
towers, or breaking the enemies' battalions like mountains of flesh with their 
irresistible charge? If their lower parts were not in accordance with their 
size they would never have been able to hold their own. Now we are told that 
the elephant lives three hundred years and more,  another reason for him to 
have solid and unjointed feet. But, as we have said, his trunk, which has the 
form and the flexibility of a serpent, takes its food from the earth and 
raises it up. Thus we are right in saying that it is impossible to find 
anything superfluous or wanting in creation. Well! God has subdued this 
monstrous animal to us to such a point that he understands the lessons and 
endures the blows we give him; a manifest proof that the Creator has submitted 
all to our rule, because we have been made in His image. It is not in great 
animals only that we see unapproachable wisdom; no less wonders are seen in 
the smallest. The high tops of the mountains which, near to the clouds and 
continually beaten by the winds, keep up a perpetual winter, do not arouse 
more admiration in me than the hollow valleys, which escape the storms of 
lofty peaks and preserve a constant mild temperature. In the same way in the 
constitution of animals I am not more astonished at the size of the elephant, 
than at the mouse, who is feared by the elephant, or at the scorpion's 
delicate sting, which has been hollowed like a pipe by the supreme artificer 
to throw venom into the wounds it makes. And let nobody accuse the Creator of 
having produced venomous animals, destroyers and enemies of our life. Else let 
them consider it a crime in the schoolmaster when he disciplines the 
restlessness of youth by the use of the rod and whip to maintain order.  

    6. Beasts bear witness to the faith. Hast thou confidence in the Lord? 
"Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk and thou shalt trample under feet the 
lion and the dragon."  With faith thou hast the power to walk upon serpents 
and scorpions. Do you not see that the viper which attached itself to the hand 
of Paul, whilst he gathered sticks, did not injure him, because it found the 
saint full of faith? If you have not faith, do not fear beasts so much as your 
faithlessness, which renders you susceptible of all corruption. But I see that 
for a long time you have been asking me for an account of the creation of man, 
and I think I can hear you all cry in your hearts, We are being taught the 
nature of our belongings, but we are ignorant of ourselves. Let me then speak 
of it, since it is necessary, and let me put an end to my hesitation. In truth 
the most difficult of sciences is to know one's self. Not only our eye, from 
which nothing outside us escapes, cannot see itself; but our mind, so piercing 
to discover the sins of others, is slow to recognise its own faults.  Thus 
my speech, after eagerly investigating what is external to myself, is slow and 
hesitating in exploring my own nature. Yet the beholding of heaven and earth 
does not make us know God better than the attentive study of our being does; I 
am, says the Prophet, fearfully and wonderfully made;  that is to say,  in 
observing myself I have known Thy infinite wisdom.  And God said "Let us 
make man."  Does not the light of theology shine, in these words, as through 
windows; and does not the second Person show Himself in a mystical way, 
without yet manifesting Himself until the great day? Where is the Jew who 
resisted the truth and pretended that God was speaking to Himself? It is He 
who spoke, it is said, and it is He who made. "Let there be light and there 
was light." But then their words contain a manifest absurdity. Where is the 
smith, the carpenter, the shoemaker, who, without help and alone before the 
instruments of his trade, would say to himself; let us make the sword, let us 
put together the plough, let us make the boot? Does he not perform the work of 
his craft in silence? Strange folly, to say that any one has seated himself to 
command himself, to watch over himself, to constrain himself, to hurry 
himself, with the tones of a master! But the unhappy creatures are not afraid 
to calumniate the Lord Himself. What will they not say with a tongue so well 
practised in lying? Here, however, words stop their mouth; "And God said let 
us make man." Tell me; is there then only one Person? It is  not written "Let 
man be made," but, "Let us make man." The preaching of theology remains 
enveloped in shadow before the appearance of him who was to be instructed, 
but, now, the creation of man is expected, that faith unveils herself and the 
dogma of truth appears in all its light. "Let us make "O enemy of Christ, 
man.O  y of  hear God speaking to His Co-operator, to Him by Whom also He made 
the worlds, Who upholds all things by the word of His power.  But He does 
not leave the voice of true religion without answer. Thus the Jews, race 
hostile to truth, when they find themselves pressed, act like beasts enraged 
against man, who roar at the bars of their cage and show the cruelty and the 
ferocity of their nature, without being able to assuage their fury. God, they 
say, addresses Himself to several persons; it is to the angels before Him that 
He says, "Let us make man." Jewish fiction! a fable whose frivolity shows 
whence it has come. To reject one person, they admit many. To reject the Son, 
they raise servants to the dignity of counsellors; they make of our fellow 
slaves the agents in our creation. The perfect man attains the dignity of an 
angel; but what creature can be like the Creator? Listen to the continuation. 
"In our image." What have you to reply? Is there one image of God and the 
angels? Father and Son have by absolute necessity the same form, but the form 
is here understood as becomes the divine, not in bodily shape, but in the 
proper qualities of Godhead. Hear also, you who belong to the new concision  
and who, under the appearance of Christianity, strengthen the error of the 
Jews.  To Whom does He say, "in our image," to whom if it is not to Him who 
is "the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person,"  "the 
image of the invisible God"?  It is then to His living image, to Him Who has 
said "I and my Father are one,"  "He that hath seen me hath seen the 
Father,"  that God says "Let us make man in our image." Where is the 
unlikeness  in these Beings who have only one image? "So God created man,"  
It is not "They made." Here Scripture avoids the plurality of the Persons. 
After having enlightened the Jew, it dissipates the error of the Gentiles in 
putting itself under the shelter of unity, to make you understand that the Son 
is with the Father, and guarding you from the danger of polytheism. He created 
him in the image of God. God still shows us His co-operator, because He does 
not say, in His image, but in the image of God. 

    If God permits, we will say later in what way man was created in the image 
of God, and how he shares this resemblance. Today we say but only one word. If 
there is one image, from whence comes the intolerable blasphemy of pretending 
that the Son is unlike the Father? What ingratitude! You have yourself 
received this likeness and you refuse it to your Benefactor! You pretend to 
keep personally that which is in you a gift of grace, and you do not wish that 
the Son should keep His natural likeness to Him who begat Him. 

    But evening, which long ago sent the sun to the west, imposes silence upon 
me. Here, then, let me be content with what I have said, and put my discourse 
to bed.  I have told you enough up to this point to excite your zeal; with the 
help of the Holy Spirit I will make for you a deeper investigation into the 
truths which follow. Retire, then, I beg you, with joy, O Christ-loving 
congregation, and, instead of sumptuous dishes of various delicacies, adorn 
and sanctify your tables with the remembrance of my words. May the Anomoean be 
confounded, the Jew covered with shame, the faithful exultant in the dogmas of 
truth, and the Lord glorified, the Lord to Whom be glory and power, world 
without end. Amen.