|1. Hebrew Bible, Exodus, 4.21, 7.3 (9th cent. BCE - 3rd cent. BCE)
| 7.3. וַאֲנִי אַקְשֶׁה אֶת־לֵב פַּרְעֹה וְהִרְבֵּיתִי אֶת־אֹתֹתַי וְאֶת־מוֹפְתַי בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם׃
| 7.3. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt."
|2. Hebrew Bible, Genesis, 6 (9th cent. BCE - 3rd cent. BCE)
|3. Hebrew Bible, Psalms, 96.5 (9th cent. BCE - 3rd cent. BCE)
| 96.5. כִּי כָּל־אֱלֹהֵי הָעַמִּים אֱלִילִים וַיהוָה שָׁמַיִם עָשָׂה׃
| 96.5. For all the gods of the peoples are things of nought; But the LORD made the heavens."
|4. Anon., 1 Enoch, 7-8, 15 (3rd cent. BCE - 2nd cent. BCE)
| 15. And He answered and said to me, and I heard His voice: 'Fear not, Enoch, thou righteous,man and scribe of righteousness: approach hither and hear my voice. And go, say to the Watchers of heaven, who have sent thee to intercede for them: 'You should intercede' for men, and not men,for you: Wherefore have ye left the high, holy, and eternal heaven, and lain with women, and defiled yourselves with the daughters of men and taken to yourselves wives, and done like the children,of earth, and begotten giants (as your) sons And though ye were holy, spiritual, living the eternal life, you have defiled yourselves with the blood of women, and have begotten (children) with the blood of flesh, and, as the children of men, have lusted after flesh and blood as those also do who die,and perish. Therefore have I given them wives also that they might impregnate them, and beget,children by them, that thus nothing might be wanting to them on earth. But you were formerly,spiritual, living the eternal life, and immortal for all generations of the world. And therefore I have not appointed wives for you; for as for the spiritual ones of the heaven, in heaven is their dwelling.,And now, the giants, who are produced from the spirits and flesh, shall be called evil spirits upon,the earth, and on the earth shall be their dwelling. Evil spirits have proceeded from their bodies; because they are born from men and from the holy Watchers is their beginning and primal origin;,they shall be evil spirits on earth, and evil spirits shall they be called. [As for the spirits of heaven, in heaven shall be their dwelling, but as for the spirits of the earth which were born upon the earth, on the earth shall be their dwelling.] And the spirits of the giants afflict, oppress, destroy, attack, do battle, and work destruction on the earth, and cause trouble: they take no food, but nevertheless,hunger and thirst, and cause offences. And these spirits shall rise up against the children of men and against the women, because they have proceeded from them.
|5. Anon., Epistle of Barnabas, 4.3 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)
| 4.3. The last offence is at hand, concerning which the scripture speaketh, as Enoch saith. For to this end the Master hath cut the seasons and the days short, that His beloved might hasten and come to His inheritance.
|6. New Testament, 1 Corinthians, 10.14-10.21 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)
| 10.14. Therefore, my beloved, flee fromidolatry. 10.15. I speak as to wise men. Judge what I say. 10.16. Thecup of blessing which we bless, isn't it a communion of the blood ofChrist? The bread which we break, isn't it a communion of the body ofChrist? 10.17. Because we, who are many, are one bread, one body; forwe all partake of the one bread. 10.18. Consider Israel after theflesh. Don't those who eat the sacrifices have communion with the altar? 10.19. What am I saying then? That a thing sacrificed to idols isanything, or that an idol is anything? 10.20. But I say that thethings which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and notto God, and I don't desire that you would have communion with demons. 10.21. You can't both drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons.You can't both partake of the table of the Lord, and of the table ofdemons.
|7. New Testament, Philippians, 2.13 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)
| 2.13. For it is God who works in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure.
|8. Athenagoras, Apology Or Embassy For The Christians, 24-28, 23 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)
| 23. You may say, however, since you excel all men in understanding, How comes it to pass, then, that some of the idols manifest power, if those to whom we erect the statues are not gods? For it is not likely that images destitute of life and motion can of themselves do anything without a mover. That in various places, cities, and nations, certain effects are brought about in the name of idols, we are far from denying. None the more, however, if some have received benefit, and others, on the contrary, suffered harm, shall we deem those to be gods who have produced the effects in either case. But I have made careful inquiry, both why it is that you think the idols to have this power, and who they are that, usurping their names, produce the effects. It is necessary for me, however, in attempting to show who they are that produce the effects ascribed to the idols, and that they are not gods, to have recourse to some witnesses from among the philosophers. First Thales, as those who have accurately examined his opinions report, divides [superior beings] into God, demons, and heroes. God he recognises as the Intelligence (νοῦς) of the world; by demons he understands beings possessed of soul (ψυχικαί); and by heroes the separated souls of men, the good being the good souls, and the bad the worthless. Plato again, while withholding his assent on other points, also divides [superior beings] into the uncreated God and those produced by the uncreated One for the adornment of heaven, the planets, and the fixed stars, and into demons; concerning which demons, while he does not think fit to speak himself, he thinks that those ought to be listened to who have spoken about them. To speak concerning the other demons, and to know their origin, is beyond our powers; but we ought to believe those who have before spoken, the descendants of gods, as they say - and surely they must be well acquainted with their own ancestors: it is impossible, therefore, to disbelieve the sons of gods, even though they speak without probable or convincing proofs; but as they profess to tell of their own family affairs, we are bound, in pursuance of custom, to believe them. In this way, then, let us hold and speak as they do concerning the origin of the gods themselves. of Gê and Ouranos were born Oceanus and Tethys; and of these Phorcus, Kronos, and Rhea, and the rest; and of Kronos and Rhea, Zeus, Hera, and all the others, who, we know, are all called their brothers; besides other descendants again of these. Did, then, he who had contemplated the eternal Intelligence and God who is apprehended by reason, and declared His attributes - His real existence, the simplicity of His nature, the good that flows forth from Him that is truth, and discoursed of primal power, and how all things are about the King of all, and all things exist for His sake, and He is the cause of all; and about two and three, that He is the second moving about the seconds, and the third about the thirds; - did this man think, that to learn the truth concerning those who are said to have been produced from sensible things, namely earth and heaven, was a task transcending his powers? It is not to be believed for a moment. But because he thought it impossible to believe that gods beget and are brought forth, since everything that begins to be is followed by an end, and (for this is much more difficult) to change the views of the multitude, who receive the fables without examination, on this account it was that he declared it to be beyond his powers to know and to speak concerning the origin of the other demons, since he was unable either to admit or teach that gods were begotten. And as regards that saying of his, The great sovereign in heaven, Zeus, driving a winged car, advances first, ordering and managing all things, and there follow him a host of gods and demons, this does not refer to the Zeus who is said to have sprung from Kronos; for here the name is given to the Maker of the universe. This is shown by Plato himself: not being able to designate Him by another title that should be suitable, he availed himself of the popular name, not as peculiar to God, but for distinctness, because it is not possible to discourse of God to all men as fully as one might; and he adds at the same time the epithet Great, so as to distinguish the heavenly from the earthly, the uncreated from the created, who is younger than heaven and earth, and younger than the Cretans, who stole him away, that he might not be killed by his father.
|9. Clement of Alexandria, Extracts From The Prophets, 2.1 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)
|10. Clement of Alexandria, Christ The Educator, 2.1 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)
|11. Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation To The Greeks, 3 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)
|12. Irenaeus, Refutation of All Heresies, 1.10.1, 4.37 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)
| 4.37. And they make moon and stars appear on the ceiling after this manner. In the central part of the ceiling, having fastened a mirror, placing a dish full of water equally (with the mirror) in the central portion of the floor, and setting in a central place likewise a candle, emitting a faint light from a higher position than the dish - in this way, by reflection, (the magician) causes the moon to appear by the mirror. But frequently, also, they suspend on high from the ceiling, at a distance, a drum, but which, being covered with some garment, is concealed by the accomplice, in order that (the heavenly body) may not appear before the (proper) time. And afterwards placing a candle (within the drum), when the magician gives the signal to the accomplice, he removes so much of the covering as may be sufficient for effecting an imitation representing the figure of the moon as it is at that particular time. He smears, however, the luminous parts of the drum with cinnabar and gum; and having pared around the neck and bottom of a flagon of glass ready behind, he puts a candle in it, and places around it some of the requisite contrivances for making the figures shine, which some one of the accomplices has concealed on high; and on receiving the signal, he throws down from above the contrivances, so to make the moon appear descending from the sky. And the same result is achieved by means of a jar in sylvan localities. For it is by means of a jar that the tricks in a house are performed. For having set up an altar, subsequently is (placed upon it) the jar, having a lighted lamp; when, however, there are a greater number of lamps, no such sight is displayed. After then the enchanter invokes the moon, he orders all the lights to be extinguished, yet that one be left faintly burning; and then the light, that which streams from the jar, is reflected on the ceiling, and furnishes to those present a representation of the moon; the mouth of the jar being kept covered for the time which it would seem to require, in order that the representation of full moon should be exhibited on the ceiling.
|13. Justin, First Apology, 2.4-2.5 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)
|14. Justin, Second Apology, 7.5-7.6 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)
| 5. But if this idea take possession of some one, that if we acknowledge God as our helper, we should not, as we say, be oppressed and persecuted by the wicked; this, too, I will solve. God, when He had made the whole world, and subjected things earthly to man, and arranged the heavenly elements for the increase of fruits and rotation of the seasons, and appointed this divine law - for these things also He evidently made for man - committed the care of men and of all things under heaven to angels whom He appointed over them. But the angels transgressed this appointment, and were captivated by love of women, and begot children who are those that are called demons; and besides, they afterwards subdued the human race to themselves, partly by magical writings, and partly by fears and the punishments they occasioned, and partly by teaching them to offer sacrifices, and incense, and libations, of which things they stood in need after they were enslaved by lustful passions; and among men they sowed murders, wars, adulteries, intemperate deeds, and all wickedness. Whence also the poets and mythologists, not knowing that it was the angels and those demons who had been begotten by them that did these things to men, and women, and cities, and nations, which they related, ascribed them to god himself, and to those who were accounted to be his very offspring, and to the offspring of those who were called his brothers, Neptune and Pluto, and to the children again of these their offspring. For whatever name each of the angels had given to himself and his children, by that name they called them.
|15. Justin, Dialogue With Trypho, 19.5-19.6 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)
| 141. Free-will in men and angels Justin: But that you may not have a pretext for saying that Christ must have been crucified, and that those who transgressed must have been among your nation, and that the matter could not have been otherwise, I said briefly by anticipation, that God, wishing men and angels to follow His will, resolved to create them free to do righteousness; possessing reason, that they may know by whom they are created, and through whom they, not existing formerly, do now exist; and with a law that they should be judged by Him, if they do anything contrary to right reason: and of ourselves we, men and angels, shall be convicted of having acted sinfully, unless we repent beforehand. But if the word of God foretells that some angels and men shall be certainly punished, it did so because it foreknew that they would be unchangeably [wicked], but not because God had created them so. So that if they repent, all who wish for it can obtain mercy from God: and the Scripture foretells that they shall be blessed, saying, 'Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputes not sin;' that is, having repented of his sins, that he may receive remission of them from God; and not as you deceive yourselves, and some others who resemble you in this, who say, that even though they be sinners, but know God, the Lord will not impute sin to them. We have as proof of this the one fall of David, which happened through his boasting, which was forgiven then when he so mourned and wept, as it is written. But if even to such a man no remission was granted before repentance, and only when this great king, and anointed one, and prophet, mourned and conducted himself so, how can the impure and utterly abandoned, if they weep not, and mourn not, and repent not, entertain the hope that the Lord will not impute to them sin? And this one fall of David, in the matter of Uriah's wife, proves, sirs, that the patriarchs had many wives, not to commit fornication, but that a certain dispensation and all mysteries might be accomplished by them; since, if it were allowable to take any wife, or as many wives as one chooses, and how he chooses, which the men of your nation do over all the earth, wherever they sojourn, or wherever they have been sent, taking women under the name of marriage, much more would David have been permitted to do this. When I had said this, dearest Marcus Pompeius, I came to an end.
|16. Minucius Felix, Octavius, 27, 26 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)
|17. Tatian, Oration To The Greeks, 7.1, 14.1, 18.3 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)
|18. Tertullian, To The Martyrs, 2.1-2.4 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)
|19. Tertullian, Against Marcion, 4.40 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)
| 4.40. In like manner does He also know the very time it behooved Him to suffer, since the law prefigures His passion. Accordingly, of all the festal days of the Jews He chose the passover. Luke 22:i In this Moses had declared that there was a sacred mystery: It is the Lord's passover. Leviticus 23:5 How earnestly, therefore, does He manifest the bent of His soul: With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer. Luke 22:15 What a destroyer of the law was this, who actually longed to keep its passover! Could it be that He was so fond of Jewish lamb? But was it not because He had to be led like a lamb to the slaughter; and because, as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so was He not to open His mouth, Isaiah 53:7 that He so profoundly wished to accomplish the symbol of His own redeeming blood? He might also have been betrayed by any stranger, did I not find that even here too He fulfilled a Psalm: He who ate bread with me has lifted up his heel against me. And without a price might He have been betrayed. For what need of a traitor was there in the case of one who offered Himself to the people openly, and might quite as easily have been captured by force as taken by treachery? This might no doubt have been well enough for another Christ, but would not have been suitable in One who was accomplishing prophecies. For it was written, The righteous one did they sell for silver. Amos 2:6 The very amount and the destination of the money, which on Judas' remorse was recalled from its first purpose of a fee, and appropriated to the purchase of a potter's field, as narrated in the Gospel of Matthew, were clearly foretold by Jeremiah: And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of Him who was valued and gave them for the potter's field. When He so earnestly expressed His desire to eat the passover, He considered it His own feast; for it would have been unworthy of God to desire to partake of what was not His own. Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, This is my body, that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body. An empty thing, or phantom, is incapable of a figure. If, however, (as Marcion might say,) He pretended the bread was His body, because He lacked the truth of bodily substance, it follows that He must have given bread for us. It would contribute very well to the support of Marcion's theory of a phantom body, that bread should have been crucified! But why call His body bread, and not rather (some other edible thing, say) a melon, which Marcion must have had in lieu of a heart! He did not understand how ancient was this figure of the body of Christ, who said Himself by Jeremiah: I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter, and I knew not that they devised a device against me, saying, Let us cast the tree upon His bread, which means, of course, the cross upon His body. And thus, casting light, as He always did, upon the ancient prophecies, He declared plainly enough what He meant by the bread, when He called the bread His own body. He likewise, when mentioning the cup and making the new testament to be sealed in His blood, Luke 22:20 affirms the reality of His body. For no blood can belong to a body which is not a body of flesh. If any sort of body were presented to our view, which is not one of flesh, not being fleshly, it would not possess blood. Thus, from the evidence of the flesh, we get a proof of the body, and a proof of the flesh from the evidence of the blood. In order, however, that you may discover how anciently wine is used as a figure for blood, turn to Isaiah, who asks, Who is this that comes from Edom, from Bosor with garments dyed in red, so glorious in His apparel, in the greatness of his might? Why are your garments red, and your raiment as his who comes from the treading of the full winepress? The prophetic Spirit contemplates the Lord as if He were already on His way to His passion, clad in His fleshly nature; and as He was to suffer therein, He represents the bleeding condition of His flesh under the metaphor of garments dyed in red, as if reddened in the treading and crushing process of the wine-press, from which the labourers descend reddened with the wine-juice, like men stained in blood. Much more clearly still does the book of Genesis foretell this, when (in the blessing of Judah, out of whose tribe Christ was to come according to the flesh) it even then delineated Christ in the person of that patriarch, saying, He washed His garments in wine, and His clothes in the blood of grapes Genesis 49:11 - in His garments and clothes the prophecy pointed out his flesh, and His blood in the wine. Thus did He now consecrate His blood in wine, who then (by the patriarch) used the figure of wine to describe His blood.
|20. Tertullian, Apology, 5.3, 21.24, 22.7 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)
| 12. But I pass from these remarks, for I know and I am going to show what your gods are not, by showing what they are. In reference, then, to these, I see only names of dead men of ancient times; I hear fabulous stories; I recognize sacred rites founded on mere myths. As to the actual images, I regard them as simply pieces of matter akin to the vessels and utensils in common use among us, or even undergoing in their consecration a hapless change from these useful articles at the hands of reckless art, which in the transforming process treats them with utter contempt, nay, in the very act commits sacrilege; so that it might be no slight solace to us in all our punishments, suffering as we do because of these same gods, that in their making they suffer as we do themselves. You put Christians on crosses and stakes: what image is not formed from the clay in the first instance, set on cross and stake? The body of your god is first consecrated on the gibbet. You tear the sides of Christians with your claws; but in the case of your own gods, axes, and planes, and rasps are put to work more vigorously on every member of the body. We lay our heads upon the block; before the lead, and the glue, and the nails are put in requisition, your deities are headless. We are cast to the wild beasts, while you attach them to Bacchus, and Cybele, and C lestis. We are burned in the flames; so, too, are they in their original lump. We are condemned to the mines; from these your gods originate. We are banished to islands; in islands it is a common thing for your gods to have their birth or die. If it is in this way a deity is made, it will follow that as many as are punished are deified, and tortures will have to be declared divinities. But plain it is these objects of your worship have no sense of the injuries and disgraces of their consecrating, as they are equally unconscious of the honours paid to them. O impious words! O blasphemous reproaches! Gnash your teeth upon us - foam with maddened rage against us - you are the persons, no doubt, who censured a certain Seneca speaking of your superstition at much greater length and far more sharply! In a word, if we refuse our homage to statues and frigid images, the very counterpart of their dead originals, with which hawks, and mice, and spiders are so well acquainted, does it not merit praise instead of penalty, that we have rejected what we have come to see is error? We cannot surely be made out to injure those who we are certain are nonentities. What does not exist, is in its nonexistence secure from suffering.
|21. Tertullian, On The Soul, 46.13, 47.1 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)
|22. Tertullian, On Baptism, 4 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)
| 4. But it will suffice to have thus called at the outset those points in which withal is recognised that primary principle of baptism - which was even then fore-noted by the very attitude assumed for a type of baptism - that the Spirit of God, who hovered over (the waters) from the beginning, would continue to linger over the waters of the baptized. But a holy thing, of course, hovered over a holy; or else, from that which hovered over that which was hovered over borrowed a holiness, since it is necessary that in every case an underlying material substance should catch the quality of that which overhangs it, most of all a corporeal of a spiritual, adapted (as the spiritual is) through the subtleness of its substance, both for penetrating and insinuating. Thus the nature of the waters, sanctified by the Holy One, itself conceived withal the power of sanctifying. Let no one say, Why then, are we, pray, baptized with the very waters which then existed in the first beginning? Not with those waters, of course, except in so far as the genus indeed is one, but the species very many. But what is an attribute to the genus reappears likewise in the species. And accordingly it makes no difference whether a man be washed in a sea or a pool, a stream or a fount, a lake or a trough; nor is there any distinction between those whom John baptized in the Jordan and those whom Peter baptized in the Tiber, unless withal the eunuch whom Philip baptized in the midst of his journeys with chance water, derived (therefrom) more or less of salvation than others. Acts 8:26-40 All waters, therefore, in virtue of the pristine privilege of their origin, do, after invocation of God, attain the sacramental power of sanctification; for the Spirit immediately supervenes from the heavens, and rests over the waters, sanctifying them from Himself; and being thus sanctified, they imbibe at the same time the power of sanctifying. Albeit the similitude may be admitted to be suitable to the simple act; that, since we are defiled by sins, as it were by dirt, we should be washed from those stains in waters. But as sins do not show themselves in our flesh (inasmuch as no one carries on his skin the spot of idolatry, or fornication, or fraud), so persons of that kind are foul in the spirit, which is the author of the sin; for the spirit is lord, the flesh servant. Yet they each mutually share the guilt: the spirit, on the ground of command; the flesh, of subservience. Therefore, after the waters have been in a manner endued with medicinal virtue through the intervention of the angel, the spirit is corporeally washed in the waters, and the flesh is in the same spiritually cleansed.
|23. Tertullian, On Idolatry, 4.2, 15.6 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)
| 10. Moreover, we must inquire likewise touching schoolmasters; nor only of them, but also all other professors of literature. Nay, on the contrary, we must not doubt that they are in affinity with manifold idolatry: first, in that it is necessary for them to preach the gods of the nations, to express their names, genealogies, honourable distinctions, all and singular; and further, to observe the solemnities and festivals of the same, as of them by whose means they compute their revenues. What schoolmaster, without a table of the seven idols, will yet frequent the Quinquatria? The very first payment of every pupil he consecrates both to the honour and to the name of Minerva; so that, even though he be not said to eat of that which is sacrificed to idols nominally (not being dedicated to any particular idol), he is shunned as an idolater. What less of defilement does he recur on that ground, than a business brings which, both nominally and virtually, is consecrated publicly to an idol? The Minervalia are as much Minerva's, as the Saturnalia Saturn's; Saturn's, which must necessarily be celebrated even by little slaves at the time of the Saturnalia. New-year's gifts likewise must be caught at, and the Septimontium kept; and all the presents of Midwinter and the feast of Dear Kinsmanship must be exacted; the schools must be wreathed with flowers; the flamens' wives and the diles sacrifice; the school is honoured on the appointed holy-days. The same thing takes place on an idol's birthday; every pomp of the devil is frequented. Who will think that these things are befitting to a Christian master, unless it be he who shall think them suitable likewise to one who is not a master? We know it may be said, If teaching literature is not lawful to God's servants, neither will learning be likewise; and, How could one be trained unto ordinary human intelligence, or unto any sense or action whatever, since literature is the means of training for all life? How do we repudiate secular studies, without which divine studies cannot be pursued? Let us see, then, the necessity of literary erudition; let us reflect that partly it cannot be admitted, partly cannot be avoided. Learning literature is allowable for believers, rather than teaching; for the principle of learning and of teaching is different. If a believer teach literature, while he is teaching doubtless he commends, while he delivers he affirms, while he recalls he bears testimony to, the praises of idols interspersed therein. He seals the gods themselves with this name; whereas the Law, as we have said, prohibits the names of gods to be pronounced, and this name to be conferred on vanity. Hence the devil gets men's early faith built up from the beginnings of their erudition. Inquire whether he who catechizes about idols commit idolatry. But when a believer learns these things, if he is already capable of understanding what idolatry is, he neither receives nor allows them; much more if he is not yet capable. Or, when he begins to understand, it behooves him first to understand what he has previously learned, that is, touching God and the faith. Therefore he will reject those things, and will not receive them; and will be as safe as one who from one who knows it not, knowingly accepts poison, but does not drink it. To him necessity is attributed as an excuse, because he has no other way to learn. Moreover, the not teaching literature is as much easier than the not learning, as it is easier, too, for the pupil not to attend, than for the master not to frequent, the rest of the defilements incident to the schools from public and scholastic solemnities.
|24. Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics, 33 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)
|25. Tertullian, On The Games, 3 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)
| 3. Fortified by this knowledge against heathen views, let us rather turn to the unworthy reasonings of our own people; for the faith of some, either too simple or too scrupulous, demands direct authority from Scripture for giving up the shows, and holds out that the matter is a doubtful one, because such abstinence is not clearly and in words imposed upon God's servants. Well, we never find it expressed with the same precision, You shall not enter circus or theatre, you shall not look on combat or show; as it is plainly laid down, You shall not kill; you shall not worship an idol; you shall not commit adultery or fraud. Exodus 20:14 But we find that that first word of David bears on this very sort of thing: Blessed, he says, is the man who has not gone into the assembly of the impious, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of scorners. Though he seems to have predicted beforehand of that just man, that he took no part in the meetings and deliberations of the Jews, taking counsel about the slaying of our Lord, yet divine Scripture has ever far-reaching applications: after the immediate sense has been exhausted, in all directions it fortifies the practice of the religious life, so that here also you have an utterance which is not far from a plain interdicting of the shows. If he called those few Jews an assembly of the wicked, how much more will he so designate so vast a gathering of heathens! Are the heathens less impious, less sinners, less enemies of Christ, than the Jews were then? And see, too, how other things agree. For at the shows they also stand in the way. For they call the spaces between the seats going round the amphitheatre, and the passages which separate the people running down, ways. The place in the curve where the matrons sit is called a chair. Therefore, on the contrary, it holds, unblessed is he who has entered any council of wicked men, and has stood in any way of sinners, and has sat in any chair of scorners. We may understand a thing as spoken generally, even when it requires a certain special interpretation to be given to it. For some things spoken with a special reference contain in them general truth. When God admonishes the Israelites of their duty, or sharply reproves them, He has surely a reference to all men; when He threatens destruction to Egypt and Ethiopia, He surely pre-condemns every sinning nation, whatever. If, reasoning from species to genus, every nation that sins against them is an Egypt and Ethiopia; so also, reasoning from genus to species, with reference to the origin of shows, every show is an assembly of the wicked.
|26. Lactantius, Divine Institutes, 2.15-2.17 (3rd cent. CE - 4th cent. CE)
| 2.15. When, therefore, the number of men had begun to increase, God in His forethought, lest the devil, to whom from the beginning He had given power over the earth, should by his subtlety either corrupt or destroy men, as he had done at first, sent angels for the protection and improvement of the human race; and inasmuch as He had given these a free will, He enjoined them above all things not to defile themselves with contamination from the earth, and thus lose the dignity of their heavenly nature. He plainly prohibited them from doing that which He knew that they would do, that they might entertain no hope of pardon. Therefore, while they abode among men, that most deceitful ruler of the earth, by his very association, gradually enticed them to vices, and polluted them by intercourse with women. Then, not being admitted into heaven on account of the sins into which they had plunged themselves, they fell to the earth. Thus from angels the devil makes them to become his satellites and attendants. But they who were born from these, because they were neither angels nor men, but bearing a kind of mixed nature, were not admitted into hell, as their fathers were not into heaven. Thus there came to be two kinds of demons; one of heaven, the other of the earth. The latter are the wicked spirits, the authors of all the evils which are done, and the same devil is their prince. Whence Trismegistus calls him the ruler of the demons. But grammarians say that they are called demons, as though dœmones, that is, skilled and acquainted with matters: for they think that these are gods. They are acquainted, indeed, with many future events, but not all, since it is not permitted them entirely to know the counsel of God; and therefore they are accustomed to accommodate their answers to ambiguous results. The poets both know them to be demons, and so describe them. Hesiod thus speaks:- These are the demons according to the will of Zeus, Good, living on the earth, the guardians of mortal men.And this is said for this purpose, because God had sent them as guardians to the human race; but they themselves also, though they are the destroyers of men, yet wish themselves to appear as their guardians, that they themselves may be worshipped, and God may not be worshipped. The philosophers also discuss the subject of these beings. For Plato attempted even to explain their natures in his Banquet; and Socrates said that there was a demon continually about him, who had become attached to him when a boy, by whose will and direction his life was guided. The art also and power of the Magi altogether consists in the influences of these; invoked by whom they deceive the sight of men with deceptive illusions, so that they do not see those things which exist, and think that they see those things which do not exist. These contaminated and abandoned spirits, as I say, wander over the whole earth, and contrive a solace for their own perdition by the destruction of men. Therefore they fill every place with snares, deceits, frauds, and errors; for they cling to individuals, and occupy whole houses from door to door, and assume to themselves the name of genii; for by this word they translate demons in the Latin language. They consecrate these in their houses, to these they daily pour out libations of wine, and worship the wise demons as gods of the earth, and as averters of those evils which they themselves cause and impose. And these, since spirits are without substance and not to be grasped, insinuate themselves into the bodies of men; and secretly working in their inward parts, they corrupt the health, hasten diseases, terrify their souls with dreams, harass their minds with phrenzies, that by these evils they may compel men to have recourse to their aid. 2.16. And the nature of all these deceits is obscure to those who are without the truth. For they think that those demons profit them when they cease to injure, whereas they have no power except to injure. Some one may perchance say that they are therefore to be worshipped, that they may not injure, since they have the power to injure. They do indeed injure, but those only by whom they are feared, whom the powerful and lofty hand of God does not protect, who are uninitiated in the mystery of truth. But they fear the righteous, that is, the worshippers of God, adjured by whose name they depart from the bodies of the possessed: for, being lashed by their words as though by scourges, they not only confess themselves to be demons, but even utter their own names - those which are adored in the temples - which they generally do in the presence of their own worshippers; not, it is plain, to the disgrace of religion, but to the disgrace of their own honour, because they cannot speak falsely to God, by whom they are adjured, nor to the righteous, by whose voice they are tortured. Therefore ofttimes having uttered the greatest howlings, they cry out that they are beaten, and are on fire, and that they are just on the point of coming forth: so much power has the knowledge of God, and righteousness! Whom, therefore, can they injure, except those whom they have in their own power? In short, Hermes affirms that those who have known God are not only safe from the attacks of demons, but that they are not even bound by fate. The only protection, he says, is piety, for over a pious man neither evil demon nor fate has any power: for God rescues the pious man from all evil; for the one and only good thing among men is piety. And what piety is, he testifies in another place, in these words: For piety is the knowledge of God. Asclepius also, his disciple, more fully expressed the same sentiment in that finished discourse which he wrote to the king. Each of them, in truth, affirms that the demons are the enemies and harassers of men, and on this account Trismegistus calls them wicked angels; so far was he from being ignorant that from heavenly beings they were corrupted, and began to be earthly. 2.17. These were the inventors of astrology, and soothsaying, and divination, and those productions which are called oracles, and necromancy, and the art of magic, and whatever evil practices besides these men exercise, either openly or in secret. Now all these things are false of themselves, as the Erythr an Sibyl testifies: - Since all these things are erroneous, Which foolish men search after day by day.But these same authorities by their countece cause it to be believed that they are true. Thus they delude the credulity of men by lying divination, because it is not expedient for them to lay open the truth. These are they who taught men to make images and statues; who, in order that they might turn away the minds of men from the worship of the true God, cause the counteces of dead kings, fashioned and adorned with exquisite beauty, to be erected and consecrated, and assumed to themselves their names, as though they were assuming some characters. But the magicians, and those whom the people truly call enchanters, when they practice their detestable arts, call upon them by their true names, those heavenly names which are read in the sacred writings. Moreover, these impure and wandering spirits, that they may throw all things into confusion, and overspread the minds of men with errors, interweave and mingle false things with true. For they themselves feigned that there are many heavenly beings, and one king of all, Jupiter; because there are many spirits of angels in heaven, and one Parent and Lord of all, God. But they have concealed the truth under false names, and withdrawn it from sight. For God, as I have shown in the beginning, does not need a name, since He is alone; nor do the angels, inasmuch as they are immortal, either suffer or wish themselves to be called gods: for their one and only duty is to submit to the will of God, and not to do anything at all except at His command. For we say that the world is so governed by God, as a province is by its ruler; and no one would say that his attendants are his sharers in the administration of the province, although business is carried on by their service. And yet these can effect something contrary to the commands of the ruler, through his ignorance; which is the result of man's condition. But that guardian of the world and ruler of the universe, who knows all things, from whose divine eyes nothing is concealed, has alone with His Son the power over all things; nor is there anything in the angels except the necessity of obedience. Therefore they wish no honour to be paid to them, since all their honour is in God. But they who have revolted from the service of God, because they are enemies of the truth, and betrayers of God attempt to claim for themselves the name and worship of gods; not that they desire any honour (for what honour is there to the lost?), nor that they may injure God, who cannot be injured, but that they may injure men, whom they strive to turn away from the worship and knowledge of the true Majesty, that they may not be able to obtain immortality, which they themselves have lost through their wickedness. Therefore they draw on darkness, and overspread the truth with obscurity, that men may not know their Lord and Father. And that they may easily entice them, they conceal themselves in the temples, and are close at hand at all sacrifices; and they often give prodigies, that men, astonished by them, may attach to images a belief in their divine power and influence. Hence it is that the stone was cut by the augur with a razor; that Juno of Veii answered that she wished to remove to Rome; that Fortuna Muliebris announced the threatening danger; that the ship followed the hand of Claudia; that Juno when plundered, and the Locrian Proserpine, and the Milesian Ceres, punished the sacrilegious; that Hercules exacted vengeance from Appius, and Jupiter from Atinius, and Minerva from C sar. Hence it was that the serpent sent for from Epidaurus freed the city of Rome from pestilence. For the chief of the demons was himself carried there in his own form, without any dissembling; if indeed the ambassadors who were sent for that purpose brought with them a serpent of immense size. But they especially deceive in the case of oracles, the juggleries of which the profane cannot distinguish from the truth; and therefore they imagine that commands, and victories, and wealth, and prosperous issues of affairs, are bestowed by them - in short, that the state has often been freed from imminent dangers by their interposition; which dangers they have both announced, and when appeased with sacrifices, have averted. But all these things are deceits. For since they have a presentiment of the arrangements of God, inasmuch as they have been His ministers, they interpose themselves in these matters, that whatever things have been accomplished or are in the course of accomplishment by God, they themselves may especially appear to be doing or to have done; and as often as any advantage is hanging over any people or city, according to the purpose of God, either by prodigies, or dreams, or oracles, they promise that they will bring it to pass, if temples, honours, and sacrifices are given to them. And on the offering of these, when the necessary result comes to pass, they acquire for themselves the greatest veneration. Hence temples are vowed, and new images consecrated; herds of victims are slain; and when all these things are done, yet the life and safety of those who have performed them are not the less sacrificed. But as often as dangers threaten, they profess that they are angry on account of some light and trifling cause; as Juno was with Varro, because he had placed a beautiful boy on the carriage of Jupiter to guard the dress, and on this account the Roman name was almost destroyed at Cann . But if Juno feared a second Ganymede, why did the Roman youth suffer punishment? Or if the gods regard the leaders only, and neglect the rest of the multitude, why did Varro alone escape who acted thus, and why was Paulus, who was innocent, slain? Assuredly nothing then happened to the Romans by the fates of the hostile Juno, when Hannibal by craft and valour dispatched two armies of the Roman people. For Juno did not venture either to defend Carthage, where were her arms and chariot, or to injure the Romans; for She had heard that sons of Troy Were born her Carthage to destroy. But these are the delusions of those who, concealing themselves under the names of the dead, lay snares for the living. Therefore, whether the impending danger can be avoided, they wish it to appear that they averted it, having been appeased; or if it cannot be avoided, they contrive that it may appear to have happened through disregard of them. Thus they acquire to themselves authority and fear from men, who are ignorant of them. By this subtlety and by these arts they have caused the knowledge of the true and only God to fail among all nations. For, being destroyed by their own vices, they rage and use violence that they may destroy others. Therefore these enemies of the human race even devised human victims, to devour as many lives as possible.
|27. Origen, Commentary On John, 6.25 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)
|28. Origen, Against Celsus, 3.37, 7.6, 7.35, 8.43, 8.62 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)
| 3.37. The Egyptians, then, having been taught to worship Antinous, will, if you compare him with Apollo or Zeus, endure such a comparison, Antinous being magnified in their estimation through being classed with these deities; for Celsus is clearly convicted of falsehood when he says, that they will not endure his being compared with Apollo or Zeus. Whereas Christians (who have learned that their eternal life consists in knowing the only true God, who is over all, and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent; and who have learned also that all the gods of the heathen are greedy demons, which flit around sacrifices and blood, and other sacrificial accompaniments, in order to deceive those who have not taken refuge with the God who is over all, but that the divine and holy angels of God are of a different nature and will from all the demons on earth, and that they are known to those exceedingly few persons who have carefully and intelligently investigated these matters) will not endure a comparison to be made between them and Apollo or Zeus, or any being worshipped with odour and blood and sacrifices; some of them, so acting from their extreme simplicity, not being able to give a reason for their conduct, but sincerely observing the precepts which they have received; others, again, for reasons not to be lightly regarded, nay, even of a profound description, and (as a Greek would say) drawn from the inner nature of things; and among the latter of these God is a frequent subject of conversation, and those who are honoured by God, through His only-begotten Word, with participation in His divinity, and therefore also in His name. They speak much, too, both regarding the angels of God and those who are opposed to the truth, but have been deceived; and who, in consequence of being deceived, call them gods or angels of God, or good demons, or heroes who have become such by the transference into them of a good human soul. And such Christians will also show, that as in philosophy there are many who appear to be in possession of the truth, who have yet either deceived themselves by plausible arguments, or by rashly assenting to what was brought forward and discovered by others; so also, among those souls which exist apart from bodies, both angels and demons, there are some which have been induced by plausible reasons to declare themselves gods. And because it was impossible that the reasons of such things could be discovered by men with perfect exactness, it was deemed safe that no mortal should entrust himself to any being as to God, with the exception of Jesus Christ, who is, as it were, the Ruler over all things, and who both beheld these weighty secrets, and made them known to a few. 7.6. But no; the Pythian, so much admired among the Greeks, judged no wise man, nay, no man at all, worthy of the divine possession, as they call it. And among women he did not choose a virgin, or one recommended by her wisdom, or by her attainments in philosophy; but he selects a common woman. Perhaps the better class of men were too good to become the subjects of the inspiration. Besides, if he were a god, he should have employed his prophetic power as a bait, so to speak, with which he might draw men to a change of life, and to the practice of virtue. But history nowhere makes mention of anything of the kind. For if the oracle did call Socrates the wisest of all men, it takes from the value of that eulogy by what is said in regard to Euripides and Sophocles. The words are:- Sophocles is wise, and Euripides is wiser, But wiser than all men is Socrates. As, then, he gives the designation wise to the tragic poets, it is not on account of his philosophy that he holds up Socrates to veneration, or because of his love of truth and virtue. It is poor praise of Socrates to say that he prefers him to men who for a paltry reward compete upon the stage, and who by their representations excite the spectators at one time to tears and grief, and at another to unseemly laughter (for such is the intention of the satyric drama). And perhaps it was not so much in regard to his philosophy that he called Socrates the wisest of all men, as on account of the victims which he sacrificed to him and the other demons. For it seems that the demons pay more regard in distributing their favours to the sacrifices which are offered them than to deeds of virtue. Accordingly, Homer, the best of the poets, who describes what usually took place, when, wishing to show us what most influenced the demons to grant an answer to the wishes of their votaries, introduces Chryses, who, for a few garlands and the thighs of bulls and goats, obtained an answer to his prayers for his daughter Chryseis, so that the Greeks were driven by a pestilence to restore her back to him. And I remember reading in the book of a certain Pythagorean, when writing on the hidden meanings in that poet, that the prayer of Chryses to Apollo, and the plague which Apollo afterwards sent upon the Greeks, are proofs that Homer knew of certain evil demons who delight in the smoke of sacrifices, and who, to reward those who offer them, grant in answer to their prayers the destruction of others. He, that is, Jupiter, who rules over wintry Dodona, where his prophets have ever unwashed feet, and sleep upon the ground, has rejected the male sex, and, as Celsus observes, employs the women of Dodona for the prophetic office. Granting that there are oracles similar to these, as that at Clarus, another in Branchid, another in the temple of Jupiter Ammon, or anywhere else; yet how shall it be proved that these are gods, and not demons? 7.35. Seeking God, then, in this way, we have no need to visit the oracles of Trophonius, of Amphiaraus, and of Mopsus, to which Celsus would send us, assuring us that we would there see the gods in human form, appearing to us with all distinctness, and without illusion. For we know that these are demons, feeding on the blood, and smoke, and odour of victims, and shut up by their base desires in prisons, which the Greeks call temples of the gods, but which we know are only the dwellings of deceitful demons. To this Celsus maliciously adds, in regard to these gods which, according to him, are in human form, they do not show themselves for once, or at intervals, like him who has deceived men, but they are ever open to intercourse with those who desire it. From this remark, it would seem that Celsus supposes that the appearance of Christ to His disciples after His resurrection was like that of a spectre flitting before their eyes; whereas these gods, as he calls them, in human shape always present themselves to those who desire it. But how is it possible that a phantom which, as he describes it, flew past to deceive the beholders, could produce such effects after it had passed away, and could so turn the hearts of men as to lead them to regulate their actions according to the will of God, as in view of being hereafter judged by Him? And how could a phantom drive away demons, and show other indisputable evidences of power, and that not in any one place, like these so-called gods in human form, but making its divine power felt through the whole world, in drawing and congregating together all who are found disposed to lead a good and noble life? 8.43. Some new thing, then, has come to pass since the time that Jesus suffered - that, I mean, which has happened to the city, to the whole nation, and in the sudden and general rise of a Christian community. And that, too, is a new thing, that those who were strangers to the covets of God, with no part in His promises, and far from the truth, have by a divine power been enabled to embrace the truth. These things were not the work of an impostor, but were the work of God, who sent His Word, Jesus Christ, to make known His purposes. The sufferings and death which Jesus endured with such fortitude and meekness, show the cruelty and injustice of those who inflicted them, but they did not destroy the announcement of the purposes of God; indeed, if we may so say, they served rather to make them known. For Jesus Himself taught us this when He said, Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides by itself alone: but if it die, it brings forth much fruit. Jesus, then, who is this grain of wheat, died, and brought forth much fruit. And the Father is ever looking forward for the results of the death of the grain of wheat, both those which are arising now, and those which shall arise hereafter. The Father of Jesus is therefore a tender and loving Father, though He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up as His lamb for us all, that so the Lamb of God, by dying for all men, might take away the sin of the world. It was not by compulsion, therefore, but willingly, that He bore the reproaches of those who reviled Him. Then Celsus, returning to those who apply abusive language to images, says: of those whom you load with insults, you may in like manner say that they voluntarily submit to such treatment, and therefore they bear insults with patience; for it is best to deal equally with both sides. Yet these severely punish the scorner, so that he must either flee and hide himself, or be taken and perish. It is not, then, because Christians cast insults upon demons that they incur their revenge, but because they drive them away out of the images, and from the bodies and souls of men. And here, although Celsus perceives it not, he has on this subject spoken something like the truth; for it is true that the souls of those who condemn Christians, and betray them, and rejoice in persecuting them, are filled with wicked demons. 8.62. In a former passage, Celsus had spoken at length on the subject of oracles, and had referred us to their answers as being the voice of the gods; but now he makes amends, and confesses that those who foretell the fortunes of men and cities, and concern themselves about mortal affairs, are earth-spirits, who are given up to fleshly lust, blood, odours, sweet sounds, and other such things, and who are unable to rise above these sensual objects. Perhaps, when we opposed the theological teaching of Celsus in regard to oracles, and the honour done to those called gods, some one might suspect us of impiety when we alleged that these were stratagems of demoniacal powers, to draw men away to carnal indulgence. But any who entertained this suspicion against us, may now believe that the statements put forth by Christians were well-founded, when they see the above passage from the writings of one who is a professed adversary of Christianity, but who now at length writes as one who has been overcome by the spirit of truth. Although, therefore, Celsus says that we must offer sacrifices to them, in so far as they are profitable to us, for to offer them indiscriminately is not allowed by reason, yet we are not to offer sacrifices to demons addicted to blood and odours; nor is the Divine Being to be profaned in our minds, by being brought down to the level of wicked demons. If Celsus had carefully weighed the meaning of the word profitable, and had considered that the truest profit lies in virtue and in virtuous action, he would not have applied the phrase as far as it is profitable to the service of such demons, as he has acknowledged them to be. If, then, health of body and success in life were to come to us on condition of our serving such demons, we should prefer sickness and misfortune accompanied with the consciousness of our being truly devoted to the will of God. For this is preferable to being mortally diseased in mind, and wretched through being separate and outcasts from God, though healthy in body and abounding in earthly prosperity. And we would rather go for help to one who seeks nothing whatever but the well-being of men and of all rational creatures, than to those who delight in blood and sacrificial odours.
|29. Origen, On First Principles, 1.3.3, 1.6.1, 1.8.2, 2.9.5-2.9.6, 3.1, 3.1.4-3.1.5, 4.4.8 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)
| 1.6.1. An end or consummation would seem to be an indication of the perfection and completion of things. And this reminds us here, that if there be any one imbued with a desire of reading and understanding subjects of such difficulty and importance, he ought to bring to the effort a perfect and instructed understanding, lest perhaps, if he has had no experience in questions of this kind, they may appear to him as vain and superfluous; or if his mind be full of preconceptions and prejudices on other points, he may judge these to be heretical and opposed to the faith of the Church, yielding in so doing not so much to the convictions of reason as to the dogmatism of prejudice. These subjects, indeed, are treated by us with great solicitude and caution, in the manner rather of an investigation and discussion, than in that of fixed and certain decision. For we have pointed out in the preceding pages those questions which must be set forth in clear dogmatic propositions, as I think has been done to the best of my ability when speaking of the Trinity. But on the present occasion our exercise is to be conducted, as we best may, in the style of a disputation rather than of strict definition. 1.8.2. And now let us say something regarding those who maintain the existence of a diversity of spiritual natures, that we may avoid falling into the silly and impious fables of such as pretend that there is a diversity of spiritual natures both among heavenly existences and human souls, and for that reason allege that they were called into being by different creators; for while it seems, and is really, absurd that to one and the same Creator should be ascribed the creation of different natures of rational beings, they are nevertheless ignorant of the cause of that diversity. For they say that it seems inconsistent for one and the same Creator, without any existing ground of merit, to confer upon some beings the power of dominion, and to subject others again to authority; to bestow a principality upon some, and to render others subordinate to rulers. Which opinions indeed, in my judgment, are completely rejected by following out the reasoning explained above, and by which it was shown that the cause of the diversity and variety among these beings is due to their conduct, which has been marked either with greater earnestness or indifference, according to the goodness or badness of their nature, and not to any partiality on the part of the Disposer. But that this may more easily be shown to be the case with heavenly beings, let us borrow an illustration from what either has been done or is done among men, in order that from visible things we may, by way of consequence, behold also things invisible. 2.9.5. Now, when we say that this world was established in the variety in which we have above explained that it was created by God, and when we say that this God is good, and righteous, and most just, there are numerous individuals, especially those who, coming from the school of Marcion, and Valentinus, and Basilides, have heard that there are souls of different natures, who object to us, that it cannot consist with the justice of God in creating the world to assign to some of His creatures an abode in the heavens, and not only to give such a better habitation, but also to grant them a higher and more honourable position; to favour others with the grant of principalities; to bestow powers upon some, dominions on others; to confer upon some the most honourable seats in the celestial tribunals; to enable some to shine with more resplendent glory, and to glitter with a starry splendour; to give to some the glory of the sun, to others the glory of the moon, to others the glory of the stars; to cause one star to differ from another star in glory. And, to speak once for all, and briefly, if the Creator God wants neither the will to undertake nor the power to complete a good and perfect work, what reason can there be that, in the creation of rational natures, i.e., of beings of whose existence He Himself is the cause, He should make some of higher rank, and others of second, or third, or of many lower and inferior degrees? In the next place, they object to us, with regard to terrestrial beings, that a happier lot by birth is the case with some rather than with others; as one man, e.g., is begotten of Abraham, and born of the promise; another, too, of Isaac and Rebekah, and who, while still in the womb, supplants his brother, and is said to be loved by God before he is born. Nay, this very circumstance — especially that one man is born among the Hebrews, with whom he finds instruction in the divine law; another among the Greeks, themselves also wise, and men of no small learning; and then another among the Ethiopians, who are accustomed to feed on human flesh; or among the Scythians, with whom parricide is an act sanctioned by law; or among the people of Taurus, where strangers are offered in sacrifice — is a ground of strong objection. Their argument accordingly is this: If there be this great diversity of circumstances, and this diverse and varying condition by birth, in which the faculty of free-will has no scope (for no one chooses for himself either where, or with whom, or in what condition he is born); if, then, this is not caused by the difference in the nature of souls, i.e., that a soul of an evil nature is destined for a wicked nation, and a good soul for a righteous nation, what other conclusion remains than that these things must be supposed to be regulated by accident and chance? And if that be admitted, then it will be no longer believed that the world was made by God, or administered by His providence; and as a consequence, a judgment of God upon the deeds of each individual will appear a thing not to be looked for. In which matter, indeed, what is clearly the truth of things is the privilege of Him alone to know who searches all things, even the deep things of God. 2.9.6. We, however, although but men, not to nourish the insolence of the heretics by our silence, will return to their objections such answers as occur to us, so far as our abilities enable us. We have frequently shown, by those declarations which we were able to produce from the holy Scriptures, that God, the Creator of all things, is good, and just, and all-powerful. When He in the beginning created those beings which He desired to create, i.e., rational natures, He had no other reason for creating them than on account of Himself, i.e., His own goodness. As He Himself, then, was the cause of the existence of those things which were to be created, in whom there was neither any variation nor change, nor want of power, He created all whom He made equal and alike, because there was in Himself no reason for producing variety and diversity. But since those rational creatures themselves, as we have frequently shown, and will yet show in the proper place, were endowed with the power of free-will, this freedom of will incited each one either to progress by imitation of God, or reduced him to failure through negligence. And this, as we have already stated, is the cause of the diversity among rational creatures, deriving its origin not from the will or judgment of the Creator, but from the freedom of the individual will. Now God, who deemed it just to arrange His creatures according to their merit, brought down these different understandings into the harmony of one world, that He might adorn, as it were, one dwelling, in which there ought to be not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay (and some indeed to honour, and others to dishonour), with those different vessels, or souls, or understandings. And these are the causes, in my opinion, why that world presents the aspect of diversity, while Divine Providence continues to regulate each individual according to the variety of his movements, or of his feelings and purpose. On which account the Creator will neither appear to be unjust in distributing (for the causes already mentioned) to every one according to his merits; nor will the happiness or unhappiness of each one's birth, or whatever be the condition that falls to his lot, be deemed accidental; nor will different creators, or souls of different natures, be believed to exist. 3.1.4. If any one now were to say that those things which happen to us from an external cause, and call forth our movements, are of such a nature that it is impossible to resist them, whether they incite us to good or evil, let the holder of this opinion turn his attention for a little upon himself, and carefully inspect the movements of his own mind, unless he has discovered already, that when an enticement to any desire arises, nothing is accomplished until the assent of the soul is gained, and the authority of the mind has granted indulgence to the wicked suggestion; so that a claim might seem to be made by two parties on certain probable grounds as to a judge residing within the tribunals of our heart, in order that, after the statement of reasons, the decree of execution may proceed from the judgment of reason. For, to take an illustration: if, to a man who has determined to live continently and chastely, and to keep himself free from all pollution with women, a woman should happen to present herself, inciting and alluring him to act contrary to his purpose, that woman is not a complete and absolute cause or necessity of his transgressing, since it is in his power, by remembering his resolution, to bridle the incitements to lust, and by the stern admonitions of virtue to restrain the pleasure of the allurement that solicits him; so that, all feeling of indulgence being driven away, his determination may remain firm and enduring. Finally, if to any men of learning, strengthened by divine training, allurements of that kind present themselves, remembering immediately what they are, and calling to mind what has long been the subject of their meditation and instruction, and fortifying themselves by the support of a holier doctrine, they reject and repel all incitement to pleasure, and drive away opposing lusts by the interposition of the reason implanted within them. 3.1.4. But if any one maintain that this very external cause is of such a nature that it is impossible to resist it when it comes in such a way, let him turn his attention to his own feelings and movements, (and see) whether there is not an approval, and assent, and inclination of the controlling principle towards some object on account of some specious arguments. For, to take an instance, a woman who has appeared before a man that has determined to be chaste, and to refrain from carnal intercourse, and who has incited him to act contrary to his purpose, is not a perfect cause of annulling his determination. For, being altogether pleased with the luxury and allurement of the pleasure, and not wishing to resist it, or to keep his purpose, he commits an act of licentiousness. Another man, again (when the same things have happened to him who has received more instruction, and has disciplined himself ), encounters, indeed, allurements and enticements; but his reason, as being strengthened to a higher point, and carefully trained, and confirmed in its views towards a virtuous course, or being near to confirmation, repels the incitement, and extinguishes the desire. 3.1.5. Seeing, then, that these positions are thus established by a sort of natural evidence, is it not superfluous to throw back the causes of our actions on those things which happen to us from without, and thus transfer the blame from ourselves, on whom it wholly lies? For this is to say that we are like pieces of wood, or stones, which have no motion in themselves, but receive the causes of their motion from without. Now such an assertion is neither true nor becoming, and is invented only that the freedom of the will may be denied; unless, indeed, we are to suppose that the freedom of the will consists in this, that nothing which happens to us from without can incite us to good or evil. And if any one were to refer the causes of our faults to the natural disorder of the body, such a theory is proved to be contrary to the reason of all teaching. For, as we see in very many individuals, that after living unchastely and intemperately, and after being the captives of luxury and lust, if they should happen to be aroused by the word of teaching and instruction to enter upon a better course of life, there takes place so great a change, that from being luxurious and wicked men, they are converted into those who are sober, and most chaste and gentle; so, again, we see in the case of those who are quiet and honest, that after associating with restless and shameless individuals, their good morals are corrupted by evil conversation, and they become like those whose wickedness is complete. And this is the case sometimes with men of mature age, so that such have lived more chastely in youth than when more advanced years have enabled them to indulge in a freer mode of life. The result of our reasoning, therefore, is to show that those things which happen to us from without are not in our own power; but that to make a good or bad use of those things which do so happen, by help of that reason which is within us, and which distinguishes and determines how these things ought to be used, is within our power. 3.1.5. Such being the case, to say that we are moved from without, and to put away the blame from ourselves, by declaring that we are like to pieces of wood and stones, which are dragged about by those causes that act upon them from without, is neither true nor in conformity with reason, but is the statement of him who wishes to destroy the conception of free-will. For if we were to ask such an one what was free-will, he would say that it consisted in this, that when purposing to do some thing, no external cause came inciting to the reverse. But to blame, on the other hand, the mere constitution of the body, is absurd; for the disciplinary reason, taking hold of those who are most intemperate and savage (if they will follow her exhortation), effects a transformation, so that the alteration and change for the better is most extensive — the most licentious men frequently becoming better than those who formerly did not seem to be such by nature; and the most savage men passing into such a state of mildness, that those persons who never at any time were so savage as they were, appear savage in comparison, so great a degree of gentleness having been produced within them. And we see other men, most steady and respectable, driven from their state of respectability and steadiness by intercourse with evil customs, so as to fall into habits of licentiousness, often beginning their wickedness in middle age, and plunging into disorder after the period of youth has passed, which, so far as its nature is concerned, is unstable. Reason, therefore, demonstrates that external events do not depend on us, but that it is our own business to use them in this way or the opposite, having received reason as a judge and an investigator of the manner in which we ought to meet those events that come from without.
|30. Augustine, The City of God, 1.1, 2.18 (4th cent. CE - 5th cent. CE)
| 1.1. For to this earthly city belong the enemies against whom I have to defend the city of God. Many of them, indeed, being reclaimed from their ungodly error, have become sufficiently creditable citizens of this city; but many are so inflamed with hatred against it, and are so ungrateful to its Redeemer for His signal benefits, as to forget that they would now be unable to utter a single word to its prejudice, had they not found in its sacred places, as they fled from the enemy's steel, that life in which they now boast themselves. [Augustine refers to the sacking of the city of Rome in 410 by Alaric the Visigoth. He was the most humane of the barbarian invaders, and had embraced Arianism. He spared the Catholics.] Have not those very Romans, who were spared by the barbarians through their respect for Christ, become enemies to the name of Christ? The reliquaries of the martyrs and the churches of the apostles bear witness to this; for in the sack of the city they were open sanctuary for all who fled to them, whether Christian or Pagan. To their very threshold the bloodthirsty enemy raged; there his murderous fury owned a limit. There did such of the enemy as had any pity convey those to whom they had given quarter, lest any less mercifully disposed might fall upon them. And, indeed, when even those murderers who everywhere else showed themselves pitiless came to those spots where that was forbidden which the license of war permitted in every other place, their furious rage for slaughter was bridled, and their eagerness to take prisoners was quenched. Thus escaped multitudes who now reproach the Christian religion, and impute to Christ the ills that have befallen their city; but the preservation of their own lives - a boon which they owe to the respect entertained for Christ by the barbarians - they attribute not to our Christ, but to their own good luck. They ought rather, had they any right perceptions, to attribute the severities and hardships inflicted by their enemies, to that divine providence which is wont to reform the depraved manners of men by chastisement, and which exercises with similar afflictions the righteous and praiseworthy - either translating them, when they have passed through the trial, to a better world, or detaining them still on earth for ulterior purposes. And they ought to attribute it to the spirit of these Christian times, that, contrary to the custom of war, these bloodthirsty barbarians spared them, and spared them for Christ's sake, whether this mercy was actually shown in promiscuous places, or in those places specially dedicated to Christ's name, and of which the very largest were selected as sanctuaries, that full scope might thus be given to the expansive compassion which desired that a large multitude might find shelter there. Therefore ought they to give God thanks, and with sincere confession flee for refuge to His name, that so they may escape the punishment of eternal fire- they who with lying lips took upon them this name, that they might escape the punishment of present destruction. For of those whom you see insolently and shamelessly insulting the servants of Christ, there are numbers who would not have escaped that destruction and slaughter had they not pretended that they themselves were Christ's servants. Yet now, in ungrateful pride and most impious madness, and at the risk of being punished in everlasting darkness, they perversely oppose that name under which they fraudulently protected themselves for the sake of enjoying the light of this brief life. 2.18. I will therefore pause, and adduce the testimony of Sallust himself, whose words in praise of the Romans (that equity and virtue prevailed among them not more by force of laws than of nature) have given occasion to this discussion. He was referring to that period immediately after the expulsion of the kings, in which the city became great in an incredibly short space of time. And yet this same writer acknowledges in the first book of his history, in the very exordium of his work, that even at that time, when a very brief interval had elapsed after the government had passed from kings to consuls, the more powerful men began to act unjustly, and occasioned the defection of the people from the patricians, and other disorders in the city. For after Sallust had stated that the Romans enjoyed greater harmony and a purer state of society between the second and third Punic wars than at any other time, and that the cause of this was not their love of good order, but their fear lest the peace they had with Carthage might be broken (this also, as we mentioned, Nasica contemplated when he opposed the destruction of Carthage, for he supposed that fear would tend to repress wickedness, and to preserve wholesome ways of living), he then goes on to say: Yet, after the destruction of Carthage, discord, avarice, ambition, and the other vices which are commonly generated by prosperity, more than ever increased. If they increased, and that more than ever, then already they had appeared, and had been increasing. And so Sallust adds this reason for what he said. For, he says, the oppressive measures of the powerful, and the consequent secessions of the plebs from the patricians, and other civil dissensions, had existed from the first, and affairs were administered with equity and well-tempered justice for no longer a period than the short time after the expulsion of the kings, while the city was occupied with the serious Tuscan war and Tarquin's vengeance. You see how, even in that brief period after the expulsion of the kings, fear, he acknowledges, was the cause of the interval of equity and good order. They were afraid, in fact, of the war which Tarquin waged against them, after he had been driven from the throne and the city, and had allied himself with the Tuscans. But observe what he adds: After that, the patricians treated the people as their slaves, ordering them to be scourged or beheaded just as the kings had done, driving them from their holdings, and harshly tyrannizing over those who had no property to lose. The people, overwhelmed by these oppressive measures, and most of all by exorbitant usury, and obliged to contribute both money and personal service to the constant wars, at length took arms and seceded to Mount Aventine and Mount Sacer, and thus obtained for themselves tribunes and protective laws. But it was only the second Punic war that put an end on both sides to discord and strife. You see what kind of men the Romans were, even so early as a few years after the expulsion of the kings; and it is of these men he says, that equity and virtue prevailed among them not more by force of law than of nature. Now, if these were the days in which the Roman republic shows fairest and best, what are we to say or think of the succeeding age, when, to use the words of the same historian, changing little by little from the fair and virtuous city it was, it became utterly wicked and dissolute? This was, as he mentions, after the destruction of Carthage. Sallust's brief sum and sketch of this period may be read in his own history, in which he shows how the profligate manners which were propagated by prosperity resulted at last even in civil wars. He says: And from this time the primitive manners, instead of undergoing an insensible alteration as hitherto they had done, were swept away as by a torrent: the young men were so depraved by luxury and avarice, that it may justly be said that no father had a son who could either preserve his own patrimony, or keep his hands off other men's. Sallust adds a number of particulars about the vices of Sylla, and the debased condition of the republic in general; and other writers make similar observations, though in much less striking language. However, I suppose you now see, or at least any one who gives his attention has the means of seeing, in what a sink of iniquity that city was plunged before the advent of our heavenly King. For these things happened not only before Christ had begun to teach, but before He was even born of the Virgin. If, then, they dare not impute to their gods the grievous evils of those former times, more tolerable before the destruction of Carthage, but intolerable and dreadful after it, although it was the gods who by their malign craft instilled into the minds of men the conceptions from which such dreadful vices branched out on all sides, why do they impute these present calamities to Christ, who teaches life-giving truth, and forbids us to worship false and deceitful gods, and who, abominating and condemning with His divine authority those wicked and hurtful lusts of men, gradually withdraws His own people from a world that is corrupted by these vices, and is falling into ruins, to make of them an eternal city, whose glory rests not on the acclamations of vanity, but on the judgment of truth?