Let us now see what is proposed to the wise man as the chief good.52 That men are born to justice is not only taught by the sacred writings, but is sometimes acknowledged even by these same philosophers. Thus Cicero says: “But of all things which fall under the discussion of learned men, nothing assuredly is more excellent than that it should be clearly understood that we are born to justice.” This is most true.53 For we are not born to wickedness, since we are a social and sociable animal. The wild beasts are produced to exercise their fierceness; for they are unable to live in any other way than by prey and bloodshed. These, however, although pressed by extreme hunger, nevertheless refrain from animals of their own kind. Birds also do the same, which must feed upon the carcases of others. How much more is it befitting, that man, who is united with man both in the interchange of language and in communion of feeling, should spare man, and love him! For this is justice.
But since wisdom has been given to man alone, that he may understand God, and this alone makes the difference between man and the dumb animals, justice itself is bound up in two duties. He owes the one to God as to a father, the other to man as to a brother; for we are produced by the same God. Therefore it has been deservedly and rightly said, that wisdom is the knowledge of divine and human affairs. For it is right that we should know what we owe to God, and what to man; namely, to God religion, to man affection. But the former belongs to wisdom, the latter to virtue; and justice comprises both. If, therefore, it is evident that man is born to justice, it is necessary that the just man should be subject to evils, that he may exercise the virtue with which he is endued. For virtue is the enduring of evils. He will avoid pleasures as an evil: he will despise riches, because they are frail; and if he has them, he will liberally bestow them, to preserve the wretched: he will not be desirous of honours, because they are short and transitory; he will do injury to no one; if he shall suffer, he will not retaliate; and he will not take vengeance upon one who plunders his property. For he will deem it unlawful to injure a man; and if there shall be any one who would compel him to depart from God, he will not refuse tortures nor death. Thus it will come to pass, that he must necessarily live in poverty and lowliness, and in insults, or even tortures.
Chap. XXXV. - That Immortality Is the Chief Good.
What, then, will be the advantage of justice and virtue, if they shall have nothing but evil in life? But if virtue, which despises all earthly goods, most wisely endures all evils, and endures death itself in the discharge of duty, cannot be without a reward, what remains but that immortality alone is its reward? For if a happy life falls to the lot of man, as the philosophers will have it, and in this point alone they do not disagree, therefore also immortality falls to him. For that only is happy which is incorruptible; that only is incorruptible which is eternal. Therefore immortality is the chief good, because it belongs both to man, and to the soul, and to virtue. We are only directed to this; we are born to the attainment of this. Therefore God proposes to us virtue and justice, that we may obtain that eternal reward for our labours. But concerning that immortality54 itself we will speak in the proper place. There remains the philosophy of Logic,55 which contributes nothing to a happy life. For wisdom does not consist in the arrangement of speech, but in the heart and the feeling. But if natural philosophy is superfluous, and this of logic, and the philosophers have erred in moral philosophy, which alone is necessary, because they have been unable in any way to find out the chief good; therefore all philosophy is found to be empty and useless, which was unable to comprehend the nature of man, or to fulfil its duty and office.
Chap. XXXVI. - Of the Philosophers, - Namely, Epicurus and Pythagoras.
Since I have spoken briefly of philosophy, now also I will speak a few things about the 236 philosophers. This is especially the doctrine of Epicurus, that there is no providence. And at the same time he does not deny the existence of gods. In both respects he acts contrary to reason. For if there are gods, it follows that there is a providence. For otherwise we can form no intelligible idea of God, for it is His peculiar province to foresee.56 But Epicurus says He takes no care about anything. Therefore He disregards not only the affairs of men, but also heavenly things. How, therefore, or from what, do you affirm that He exists? For when you have taken away the divine providence and care, it would naturally follow that you should altogether deny the existence of God; whereas now you have left Him in name, but in reality you have taken Him away. Whence, then, did the world derive its origin, if God takes no care of anything? There are, he says, minute atoms, which can neither be seen nor touched, and from the fortuitous meeting of these all things arose, and are continually arising. If they are neither seen nor perceived by any part of the body, how could you know of their existence? In the next place, if they exist, with what mind do they meet together to effect anything? If they are smooth, they cannot cohere: if they are hooked and angular, then they are divisible; for hooks and angles project, and can be cut off. But these things are senseless and unprofitable. Why should I mention that he also makes souls capable of extinction? who is refuted not only by all philosophers and general persuasion, but also by the answers of bards, by the predictions of the Sibyls, and lastly, by the divine voices of the prophets themselves; so that it is wonderful that Epicurus alone existed, who should place the condition of man on a level with the flocks and beasts.
What of Pythagoras, who was first called a philosopher, who judged that souls were indeed immortal, but that they passed into other bodies, either of cattle, or of birds, or of beasts? Would it not have been better that they should be destroyed, together with their bodies, than thus to be condemned to pass into the bodies of other animals? Would it not be better not to exist at all, than, after having had the form of a man, to live as a swine or a dog? And the foolish man, to gain credit for his saying, said that he himself had been Euphorbus in the Trojan war, and that, when he had been slain, he passed into other figures of animals, and at last became Pythagoras. O happy man! to whom alone so great a memory was given; or rather unhappy, who, when changed into a sheep, was not permitted to be ignorant of what he was! And would to Heaven that he alone had been thus senseless! He found also some to believe him, and some indeed among the learned,57 to whom the inheritance of folly passed.
Chap. XXXII. - Of Socrates and His Contradiction.
After him Socrates held the first place in philosophy, who was pronounced most wise even by the oracle, because he confessed that he knew one thing only, - namely, that he knew nothing. And on the authority of this oracle it was right that the natural philosophers should restrain themselves, lest they should either inquire into those things which they could not know, or should think that they knew things which they did not know. Let us, however, see whether Socrates was most wise, as the Pythian god proclaimed. He often made use of this proverb, that that which is above us has also no reference to us. He has now passed beyond the limits of his opinion. For he who said that he knew one thing only, found another thing to speak of, as though he knew it; but that in vain. For God, who is plainly above us, is to be sought for; and religion is to be undertaken, which alone separates us from the brutes, which indeed Socrates not only rejected, but even derided, in swearing by a goose and a dog, as if in truth he could not have sworn by Æsculapius, to whom he had vowed a cock. Behold the sacrifice of a wise man! And because he was unable to offer this in his own person, since he was at the point of death, he entreated his friends to perform the vow after his death, lest forsooth he should be detained as a debtor in the lower regions. He assuredly both pronounced that he knew nothing, and made good his statement.58
Chap. XXXVIII. - Of Plato, Whose Doctrine Approaches More Nearly to the Truth.
His disciple Plato, whom Tully speaks of as the god of philosophers, alone of all so studied philosophy that he approached nearer to the truth; and yet, because he was ignorant of God, he so failed in many things, that no one fell into worse errors, especially because in his books respecting the state he wished all things to be common to all. This is endurable concerning property, though it is unjust. For it ought not to be an injury to any one, if he possesses more than another through his own industry; or to be a profit to any one, if through his own fault he possesses less. But, as I have said, this is capable of being endured in some way. Shall there be a community 237 of wives also, and of children? Shall there be no distinction of blood, or certainty of race? Shall there be neither families, nor relationships, nor affinities, but all things confused and indiscriminate, as in herds of cattle? Shall there be no self-restraint in men, no chastity in women? What conjugal affection can there be in these, between whom on either side there is no sure or peculiar59 love? Who will be dutiful towards a father, when he knows not from whom he was born? Who will love a son, whom he will reckon as not his own?60 Moreover, he opened61 the senate house to women, and entrusted to them warfare, magistracies, and commands.62 But how great will be the calamity of that city, in which women shall discharge the duties of men! But of this more fully at another opportunity.
Zeno, the master of the Stoics, who praises virtue, judged that pity, which is a very great virtue, should be cut away, as though it were a disease of the mind, whereas it is at the same time dear to God and necessary for men. For who is there who, when placed in any evil, would be unwilling to be pitied, and would not desire the assistance of those who might succour them, which is not called forth so as to render aid, except by the feeling of pity? Although he calls this humanity and piety, he does not change the matter itself, only the name. This is the affection which has been given to man alone, that by mutual assistance we might alleviate our weakness; and he who removes this affection reduces us to the life of the beasts. For his assertion that all faults are equal, proceeds from that inhumanity with which also he assails pity as a disease. For he who makes no difference in faults, either thinks that light offences ought to be visited with severe punishments, which is the part of a cruel judge, or that great offences should be visited with slight punishments, which is the part of a worthless judge. In either case there is injury to the state. For if the greatest crimes are lightly punished, the boldness of the wicked will increase, and go on to deeds of greater daring; and if a punishment of too great severity is inflicted for slight offences, inasmuch as no one can be exempt from fault, many citizens will incur peril, who by correction might become better.
Chap. XXXIX. - Of Various Philosophers, and of the Antipodes.
These things, truly, are of small importance, but they arise from the same falsehood. Xenophanes said that the orb of the moon is eighteen times larger than this earth of ours; and that within its compass is contained another earth, which is inhabited by men and animals of every kind. About the antipodes also one can neither hear nor speak without laughter. It is asserted as something serious, that we should believe that there are men who have their feet opposite to ours. The ravings of Anaxagoras are more tolerable, who said that snow was black. And not only the sayings, but the deeds, of some are ridiculous. Democritus neglected his land which was left to him by his father, and suffered it to become a public pasture. Diogenes with his company of dogs,63 who professes that great and perfect virtue in the contempt of all things, preferred to beg for his support, rather than to seek it by honest labour, or to have any property. Undoubtedly the life of a wise man ought to be to others an example of living. If all should imitate the wisdom of these, how will states exist? But perhaps the same Cynics were able to afford an example of modesty, who lived with their wives in public. I know not how they could defend virtue, who took away modesty.
Nor was Aristippus better than these, who, I believe, that he might please his mistress Lais, instituted the Cyrenaic system, by which he placed the end of the chief good in bodily pleasure, that authority might not be wanting to his faults, or learning to his vices. Are those men of greater fortitude to be more approved, who, that they might be said to have despised death, died by their own hands? Zeno, Empedocles, Chrysippus, Cleanthes, Democritus, and Cato, imitating these, did not know that he who put himself to death is guilty of murder, according to the divine right and law. For it was God who placed us in this abode of flesh: it was He who gave us the temporary habitation of the body, that we should inhabit it as long as He pleased. Therefore it is to be considered impious, to wish to depart from it without the command of God. Therefore violence must not be applied to nature. He knows how to destroy64 His own work. And if any one shall apply impious hands to that work, and shall tear asunder the bonds of the divine workmanship, he endeavours to flee from God, whose sentence no one will be able to escape, whether alive or dead. Therefore they are accursed and impious, whom I have mentioned above, who even taught what are the befitting reasons for voluntary death; so that it was not enough of guilt that they were self-murderers, unless they instructed others also to this wickedness.65
Chap. XL. - Of the Foolishness of the Philosophers.
There are innumerable sayings and doings of the philosophers, by which their foolishness may be shown. Therefore, since we are unable to enumerate them all, a few will be sufficient. It is enough that it is understood that the philosophers were neither teachers of justice, of which they were ignorant, nor of virtue, of which they falsely boast. For what can they teach, who often confess their own ignorance? I omit to mention Socrates, whose opinion is well known. Anaxagoras proclaims that all things are over-spread with darkness. Empedocles says that the paths for finding out the truth of the senses are narrow. Democritus asserts that truth lies sunk in a deep well; and because they nowhere find it, they therefore affirm that no wise man has as yet existed. Since, therefore, human wisdom has no existence (Socrates says in the writings of Plato), let us follow that which is divine, and let us give thanks to God, who has revealed and delivered it to us; and let us congratulate ourselves, that through the divine bounty we possess the truth and wisdom, which, though sought by so many intellects through so many ages, philosophy66 was not able to discover.
Chap. XLI. - Of True Religion and Wisdom.
Now, since we have refuted false religion, which is in the worship of the gods, and false wisdom, which is in the philosophers, let us come to true religion and wisdom. And, indeed, we must speak of them both conjointly, because they are closely connected. For to worship the true God, that and nothing else is wisdom. For that God who is supreme and the Maker of all things, who made man as the image of Himself, on this account conferred on him alone of all animals the gift of reason, that he might pay back honour to Him as his Father and his Lord, and by the exercise of this piety and obedience might gain the reward of immortality. This is a true and divine mystery. But among those,67 because they are not true, there is no agreement. Neither are sacred rites performed in philosophy, nor is philosophy treated of in sacred things; and on this account their religion is false, because it does not possess wisdom; and on this account their wisdom is false, because it does not possess religion. But where both are joined together, there the truth must necessarily be; so that if it is asked what the truth itself is, it may be rightly said to be either wise religion or religious wisdom.
Chap. XLII. - Of Religious Wisdom: The Name of Christ Known to None, Except Himself and His Father.
I will now say what wise religion, or religious wisdom, is. God, in the beginning, before He made the world, from the fountain of His own eternity, and from the divine and everlasting Spirit,68 begat for Himself a Son incorruptible, faithful, corresponding to His Father’s excellence and majesty. He is virtue, He is reason, He is the word of God, He is wisdom. With this artificer, as Hermes says, and counsellor, as the Sibyl says, He contrived the excellent and wondrous fabric of this world. In fine, of all the angels, whom the same God formed from His own breath,69 He alone was admitted into a participation of His supreme power, He alone was called God. For all things were through Him, and nothing was without Him. In fine, Plato, not altogether as a philosopher, but as a seer, spoke concerning the first and second God, perhaps following Trismegistus in this, whose words I have translated from the Greek, and subjoined: “The Lord and Maker of all things, whom we have thought to be called God, created70 a second God, who is visible and sensible. But by sensible I mean, not that He Himself receives sensation, but that He causes sensation and sight. When, therefore, He had made this, the first, and one, and only one, He appeared to Him most excellent, and full of all good qualities.” The Sibyl also says that God the guide of all was made by God, and another, that
“God the Son of God must be known,”
as those examples which I have brought forward in my books declare. Him the prophets, filled with the inspiration of the Divine Spirit, proclaimed; of whom especially Solomon in the book of Wisdom, and also his father, the writer of divine hymns - both most renowned kings, who preceded the times of the Trojan war by a hundred and eighty years71 - testify that He was born of God. His name is known to none, except to Himself and the Father, as John teaches in the Revelation. (Rev_19:12) Hermes says that His name cannot be uttered by mortal mouth. Yet by men He is called by two names - Jesus, which is Saviour, and Christ, which is King. He is called Saviour on this account, because He is the health and safety of all who believe in God through Him. He is called Christ on this account, because He Himself will come from 239 heaven at the end of this dispensation72 to judge the world, and, having raised the dead, to establish for Himself an everlasting kingdom.
Chap. XLIII. - Of the Name of Jesus Christ, and His Twofold Nativity.
But lest by any chance there should be any doubt in your mind why we call Him Jesus Christ, who was born of God before the world, and who was born of man three hundred years ago, I will briefly explain to you the reason. The same person is the son of God and of man. For He was twice born: first of God, in the spirit, before the origin of the world; afterwards in the flesh of man, in the reign of Augustus; and in connection with this fact is an illustrious and great mystery, in which is contained both the salvation of men and the religion of the Supreme God, and all truth. For when first the accursed and impious worship of gods crept in through the treachery of the demons, then the religion of God remained with the Hebrews alone, who, not by any law, but after the manner of their fathers, observed the worship handed down to them by successive generations,73 even until the time when they went forth out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses, the first of all the prophets, through whom the law was given to them from God; and they were afterwards called Jews. Therefore they served God, being bound by the chains of the law. But they also, by degrees going astray to profane rites, undertook the worship of strange gods, and, leaving the worship of their fathers, sacrificed to senseless images. Therefore God sent to them prophets filled with the Divine Spirit, to upbraid them with their sins and proclaim repentance, to threaten them with the vengeance which would follow, and announce that it would come to pass, if they persisted in the same faults, that He would send another as the bearer of a new law; and having removed the ungrateful people from their inheritance, He would assemble to Himself a more faithful people from foreign nations. But they not only persisted in their course, but even slew the messengers themselves. Therefore He condemned them on account of these deeds: nor did He any longer send messengers to a stubborn people; but He sent His own Son, to call all nations to the favour of God. Nor, however, did He shut them out, impious and ungrateful as they were, from the hope of salvation: but He sent Him to them before all others,74 that if they should by chance obey, they might not lose that which they had received; but if they should refuse to receive their God, then, the heirs being removed,75 the Gentiles would come into possession. Therefore the supreme Father ordered Him to descend to the earth, and to put on a human body, that, being subject to the sufferings of the flesh, He might teach virtue and patience not only by words, but also by deeds. Therefore He was born a second time as man, of a virgin, without a father, that, as in His first spiritual birth, being born of God alone, He was made a sacred spirit, so in His second and fleshly birth, being born of a mother only, He might become holy flesh, that through Him the flesh, which had become subject to sin, might be freed from destruction.
Chap. XLIV. - The Twofold Nativity of Christ Is Proved from the Prophets.
That these things should thus take place as I have set them forth, the prophets had before predicted. In the writings of Solomon it is thus written:76 “The womb of a virgin was strengthened, and conceived: and a virgin was impregned, and became a mother in great pity.” In Isaiah (Isa_7:14) it is thus written: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and ye shall call His name Immanuel;” which, being interpreted, is God with us. (Mat_1:23) For He was with us on the earth, when He assumed flesh; and He was no less God in man, and man in God. That He was both God and man was declared before by the prophets. That He was God, Isaiah (Isa_14:14-16) thus declares: “They shall fall down unto Thee, they shall make supplication unto Thee; since God is in Thee, and we knew it not, even the God of Israel. They shall be ashamed and confounded, all of them who oppose themselves to Thee, and shall go to confusion.” Also Jeremiah: (Baruch 3:35-37) “This is our God, and there shall none other be compared unto Him; He hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath given it unto Jacob His servant, and to Israel His beloved. Afterward He was seen upon earth, and dwelt among men.” Likewise that He was man, the same Jeremiah77 says: “And He is man, and who knew Him?” Isaiah also thus speaks: (Isa_19:20, LXX) “And the Lord shall send them a man who shall save them, and with judgment shall He heal them.” Also Moses himself in the book of Numbers:78 “There shall come a star out of Jacob, and a man shall arise out of Israel.” For this cause, therefore, being God, He took upon Him flesh, that, becoming a mediator79 between God and man, having overcome 240 death, He might by His guidance lead man to God.
Chap. XLV. - The Power and Works of Christ Are Proved from the Scriptures.
We have spoken of His nativity; now let us speak of His power and works, which, when He wrought them among men, the Jews, seeing them to be great and wonderful, supposed that they were done by the influence of magic, not knowing that all those things which were done by Him had been foretold by the prophets. He gave strength to the sick, and to those languishing under various diseases, not by any healing remedy, but instantaneously, by the force and power of His word; He restored the weak, He made the lame to walk, He gave sight to the blind, He made the dumb to speak, the deaf to hear; He cleansed the polluted and unclean, He restored their right mind to those who were maddened with the attack of demons, He recalled to life and light those who were dead or now buried. He also fed and satisfied80 five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes. He also walked upon the sea. He also in a tempest commanded the wind to be still, and immediately there was a calm; all which things we find predicted both in the books of the prophets and in the verses of the Sibyls.
When a great multitude resorted to Him on account of these miracles, and, as He truly was, believed Him to be the Son of God, and sent from God, the priests and rulers of the Jews, filled with envy, and at the same time excited with anger, because He reproved their sins and injustice, conspired to put Him to death; and that this would happen, Solomon had foretold a little more than a thousand years before, in the book of Wisdom, using these words:81 “Let us defraud the righteous, for he is unpleasant to us, and upbraideth us with our offences against the law. He maketh his boast that he has the knowledge of God, and he calleth himself the Son of God. He is made to reprove our thoughts: it grieveth us even to look upon him; for his life is not like the life of others, his ways are of another fashion. We are counted by him as triflers; he withdraweth himself from our ways, as from filthiness; he commendeth greatly the latter end of the just, and boasteth that he has God for his father. Let us see, therefore, if his words be true; let us prove what end he shall have; let us examine him with rebukes and torments, that we may know his meekness and prove his patience; let us condemn him to a shameful death. Such things have they imagined, and have gone astray; for their own folly hath blinded them, and they do not understand the mysteries of God.”
Therefore, being unmindful of these writings which they read, they incited the people as though against an impious man, so that they seized and led Him to trial, and with impious words demanded His death. But they alleged against Him as a crime this very thing, that He said that He was the Son of God, and that by healing on the Sabbath He broke the law, which He said that He did not break, but fulfilled. And when Pontius Pilate, who then as legate had authority in Syria, perceived that the cause did not belong to the office of the Roman judge, he sent Him to Herod the Tetrarch, and permitted the Jews themselves to be the judges of their own law: who, having received the power of punishing His guilt, sentenced82 Him to the cross, but first scourged and struck him with their hands, put on Him a crown of thorns, spat upon His face, gave Him gall and vinegar to eat and drink; and amidst these things no word was heard to fall from His lips. Then the executioners, having cast lots over His tunic and mantle, suspended Him on the cross, and affixed Him to it, though on the next day they were about to celebrate the Passover, that is, their festival. Which crime was followed by prodigies, that they might understand the impiety which they had committed; for at the same moment in which He expired, there was a great earthquake, and a withdrawing83 of the sun, so that the day was turned into night.
Chap. XLVI. - It Is Proved from the Prophets that the Passion and Death of Christ Had Been Foretold.
And the prophets had predicted that all these things would thus come to pass. Isaiah thus speaks: (Isa_50:5, Isa_50:6) “I am not rebellious, nor do I oppose: I gave my back to the scourge, and my cheeks to the hand: I turned not away my face from the foulness of spitting.” The same prophet says respecting His silence: (Isa_53:7) “I was brought as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.” David also, in the xxxivth Psalm:84 “The abjects were gathered together against me, and they knew me not: they were scattered, yet felt no remorse: they tempted me, and gnashed upon me with their teeth.” The same also says respecting food and drink in the lxviiith Psalm: (Psa_69:21) “They gave me also gall for my meat, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” Also 241 respecting the cross of Christ: (Psa_22:16-18) “And they pierced my hands and my feet, they numbered all my bones: they themselves have looked and stared upon me; they parted my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” Moses also says in Deuteronomy: (Deu_28:66) “ And thy life shall hang in doubt before thine eyes, and thou shall fear day and night, and shall have none assurance of thy life.” Also in Numbers: (Num_23:19) “God is not in doubt as a man, nor does He suffer threats as the son of man.” Also Zechariah says: (Zec_12:10) “And they shall look on me whom they pierced.” Amos (Amo_8:9, Amo_8:10) thus speaks of the obscuring of the sun: “In that day, saith the Lord, the sun shall go down at noon, and the clear day shall be dark; and I will turn your feasts into mourning, and your songs into lamentation.” Jeremiah (Jer_15:9) also speaks of the city of Jerusalem, in which He suffered: “Her sun is gone down while it was yet day; she hath been confounded and reviled, and the residue of them will I deliver to the sword.” Nor were these things spoken in vain. For after a short time the Emperor Vespasian subdued the Jews, and laid waste their lands with the sword and fire, besieged and reduced them by famine, overthrew Jerusalem, led the captives in triumph, and prohibited the others who were left from ever returning to their native land. And these things were done by God on account of that crucifixion of Christ, as He before declared this to Solomon in their Scriptures, saying, (1Ki_9:7-9) “And Israel shall be for perdition and a reproach85 to the people, and this house shall be desolate; and every one that shall pass by shall be astonished, and shall say, Why hath God done these evils to this land, and to this house? And they shall say, Because they forsook the Lord their God, and persecuted their King, who was dearly beloved by God, and crucified Him with great degradation, therefore hath God brought upon them these evils.” For what would they not deserve who put to death their Lord, who had come for their salvation?
Chap. XLVII. - Of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Sending of the Apostles, and the Ascension of the Saviour into Heaven.
After these things they took His body down from the cross, and buried it in a tomb. But on the third day, before daybreak, there was an earthquake, and the stone with which they had closed the sepulchre was removed, and He arose. But nothing was found in the sepulchre except the clothes in which the body had been wrapped.86 But that He would rise again on the third day, the prophets had long ago foretold. David, in the xvth Psalm: (Psa_16:10) “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption.” Likewise Hosea: (Hos_13:13, LXX) This my Son is wise, therefore He shall not stay long in the anguish of His sons: and I will ransom Him from the hand of the grave. Where is thy judgment, O death, where is thy sting?” The same again says: (Hos_6:2) “After two days He will revive us on the third day.”
Therefore, after His resurrection He went into Galilee, and again assembled His disciples, who had fled through fear; and having given them commands which He wished to be observed, and having arranged for the preaching of the Gospel throughout the whole world, He breathed into them the Holy Spirit,87 and gave them the power of working miracles, that they might act for the welfare of men as well by deeds as words; and then at length, on the fortieth day, He returned to His Father, being carried up into a cloud. The prophet Daniel (Dan_7:13) had long before shown this, saying, “I saw in the night vision, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days; and they who stood beside Him brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him a kingdom, and glory, and dominion, and all people, tribes, and languages shall serve Him; and His power is an everlasting one, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” Also David in the cixth Psalm: (Psa_110:1) “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at my right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.”
Chap. XLVIII. - Of the Disinheriting of the Jews, and the Adoption of the Gentiles.
Since, therefore, He sits at the right hand of God, about to tread down His enemies, who tortured Him, when He shall come to judge the world, it is evident that no hope remains to the Jews, unless, turning themselves to repentance, and being cleansed from the blood with which they polluted themselves, they shall begin to hope in Him whom they denied.88 Therefore Esdras thus speaks:89 “This passover is our Saviour and our refuge. Consider and let it come into your heart, that we have to abase 242 Him in a figure: and after these things we have hoped90 in Him.”
Now that the Jews were disinherited, because they rejected Christ, and that we, who are of the Gentiles, were adopted into their place, is proved by the Scriptures. Jeremiah (Jer_12:7, Jer_12:8) thus speaks: “I have forsaken mine house, I have given mine heritage into the hands of her enemies. Mine heritage is become unto me as a lion in the forest; it hath given forth its voice against me: therefore have I hated it.” Also Malachi: (Mal_1:10, Mal_1:11) “I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord, neither will I accept an offering at your hand. For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down thereof, my name shall be great among the Gentiles.” Isaiah also thus speaks: (Isa_66:18) “I come to gather all nations and tongues: and they shall come and see my glory.” The same says in another place, (Isa_43:6, Isa_43:7) speaking in the person of the Father to the Son: “I the Lord have called Thee in righteousness, and will hold Thine hand, and will keep Thee, and give Thee for a covenant of my people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house.”
Chap. XLIX. - That God Is One Only.
If therefore the Jews have been rejected by God, as the faith due to the sacred writings shows, and the Gentiles, as we see, brought in, and freed from the darkness of this present life and from the chains of demons, it follows that no other hope is proposed to man, unless he shall follow true religion and true wisdom, which is in Christ, and he who is ignorant of Him is always estranged from the truth and from God. Nor let the Jews, or philosophers, flatter themselves respecting the Supreme God. He who has not acknowledged the Son has been unable to acknowledge the Father. (1Jo_4:15) This is wisdom, and this is the mystery of the Supreme God. God willed that He should be acknowledged and worshipped through Him. (Joh_14:6, Joh_14:13; Joh_5:23) On this account He sent the prophets beforehand to announce His coming, that when the things which had been foretold were fulfilled in Him, then He might be believed by men to be both the Son of God and God.
Nor, however, must the opinion be entertained that there are two Gods, for the Father and the Son are one. For since the Father loves the Son, and gives all things to Him, and the Son faithfully obeys the Father, and wills nothing except that which the Father does, it is plain that so close a relationship cannot be separated, so that they should be said to be two in whom there is but one substance, and will, and faith. Therefore the Son is through the Father, and the Father through the Son. One honour is to be given to both, as to one God, and is to be so divided through the worship of the two, that the division itself may be bound by an inseparable bond of union. He will leave nothing to himself, who separates either the Father from the Son, or the Son from the Father. (1Jo_1:1-10:22, 23)
Chap. L. - Why God Assumed a Mortal Body, and Suffered Death.
It remains to answer those also, who deem that it was unbecoming and unreasonable that God should be clothed with a mortal body; that He should be in subjection to men; that He should endure insults; that He should even suffer tortures and death. I will speak my sentiments, and I will sum up, as I shall be able, an immense subject in few words. He who teaches anything, ought, as I think, himself to practise what he teaches, that he may compel men to obey. For if he shall not practise them, he will detract from the faith due to his precepts. Therefore there is need of examples, that the precepts which are given may have firmness, and if any one shall prove contumacious, and shall say that they cannot be carried out in practice, the instructor may refute him by actual fact.91 Therefore a system of teaching cannot be perfect, when it is delivered by words only; but it then becomes perfect, when it is completed by deeds.
Since therefore Christ was sent to men as a teacher of virtue, for the perfection of His teaching it was plainly befitting that He should act as well as teach. But if He had not assumed a human body, He would not have been able to practise what He taught, - that is, not to be angry, not to desire riches, not to be inflamed with lust, not to fear pain, to despise death. These things are plainly virtues, but they cannot be done without flesh. Therefore He assumed a body on this account, that, since He taught that the desires of the flesh must be overcome, He might in person first practise it, that no one might allege the frailty of the flesh as an excuse.
Chap. LI. - Of the Death of Christ on the Cross.
I will now speak of the mystery of the cross, lest any one should happen to say, If death must be endured by Him, it should have been not one 243 that was manifestly infamous and dishonourable, but one which had some honour. I know, indeed, that many, while they dislike the name of the cross, shrink from the truth, though there is in it great reasonableness and power, For since He was sent for this purpose, that He might open to the lowest men the way to salvation, He made Himself humble that He might free them. Therefore He underwent that kind of death which is usually inflicted on the humble, that an opportunity of imitation might be given to all. Moreover, since He was about to rise again, it was not allowable that His body should be in any way mutilated, or a bone broken, which happens to those who are beheaded. Therefore the cross was preferred, which reserved the body with the bones uninjured for the resurrection.
To these grounds it was also added, that having undertaken to suffer and to die, it was befitting that He should be lifted up. Thus the cross exalted Him both in fact and in emblem,92 so that His majesty and power became known to all, together with His passion. For in that He extended His hands on the cross, He plainly stretched out His wings towards the east and the west, under which all nations from either side of the world might assemble and repose. But of what great weight this sign is, and what power it has, is evident, since all the host of demons is expelled and put to flight by this sign. And as He Himself before His passion put to confusion demons by His word and command, so now, by the name and sign of the same passion, unclean spirits, having insinuated themselves into the bodies of men, are driven out, when racked and tormented, and confessing themselves to be demons, they yield themselves to God, who harasses them. What therefore can the Greeks expect from their superstitions and with their wisdom, when they see that their gods, whom they do not deny to be demons also, are subdued by men through the cross?
Chap. LII. - The Hope of the Salvation of Men Consists in the Knowledge of the True God, and of the Hatred of the Heathens Against the Christians.
There is therefore but one hope of life for men, one harbour of safety, one refuge of liberty, if, laying aside the errors by which they were held, they open the eyes of their mind and recognise God, in whom alone is the abode of truth; despise earthly things, and those made from the ground; esteem as nothing philosophy, which is foolishness with God; and having undertaken true wisdom, that is, religion, become heirs of immortality. But indeed they are not so much opposed to the truth as to their own safety; and when they hear these things, they abominate them as some inexpiable wickedness. But they do not even endure93 to hear: they think that their ears are polluted with impiety94 if they hear; nor do they now refrain from reproaches, but assail them with the most insulting words; and also, if they have obtained the power, persecute them as public enemies, yea, even as worse than enemies; for enemies, when they have been vanquished, are punished with death or slavery; nor is there any torturing after the laying down of arms, although those deserved to suffer all things who wished so to act, that piety might have place among swords.
Cruelty, combined with innocence, is unheard of, nor is it worthy of the condition of victorious enemies. What is the so powerful cause of this fury? Doubtless, because they cannot contend on the ground of reason, they urge forward their cause by means of violence; and, with the subject not understood, they condemn those as most pernicious persons who have declined to make a stand respecting the fact of their innocence. Nor do they deem it sufficient that those whom they unreasonably hate should die by a speedy and simple death; but they lacerate them with refined tortures, that they may satisfy their hatred, which is not produced by any fault, but by the truth, which is hateful to those who live wickedly, because they take it ill that there are some whom their deeds cannot please. They desire in every way to destroy these, that they may be able to sin without restraint in the absence of any witness.
Chap. LIII. - The Reasons of the Hatred Against the Christians Are Examined and Refuted.
But they say that they do these things for the defence of their gods. In the first place, if they are gods, and have any power and influence, they have no need of the defence and protection of men, but they manifestly defend themselves. Or how is man able to hope for aid from them, if they are unable to avenge even their own injuries? Therefore it is a vain and foolish thing to wish to be avengers of the gods, except that their distrust is more apparent from this. For he who undertakes the protection of the god whom he worships, admits the worthlessness of that god; but if he worships him on this account, because he thinks him powerful, he ought not to wish to defend him, by whom he himself ought to be defended. We therefore act rightly. For when those defenders of false gods, who are rebellious against the true God, persecute His name in us, we resist not 244 either in deed or in word, but with meekness, and silence, and patience, we endure whatever cruelty is able to contrive against us. For we have confidence in God, from whom we expect that retribution will hereafter follow. Nor is this confidence ungrounded, since we have in some cases heard, and in other cases seen, the miserable ends of all those who have dared to commit this crime. Nor has any one had it in his power to insult God with impunity; but he who has been unwilling to learn by word has learned by his own punishment who is the true God.
I should wish to know, when they compel men to sacrifice against their will, what reasoning they have with themselves, or to whom they make that offering. If it is made to the gods, that is not worship, nor an acceptable sacrifice, which is made by those who are displeasing to them, which is extorted by injury, which is enforced by pain. But if it is done to those whom they compel, it is plainly not a benefit, which any one would not receive, he even prefers rather to die. If it is a good to which you call me, why do you invite me with evil? why with blows, and not with words? why not by argument, but by bodily tortures? Whence it is manifest that that is an evil, to which you do not allure me willing, but drag me refusing. What folly is it to wish to consult the good of any one against his will! If any one, under the pressure of evils, attempts to have recourse to death, can you, if you either wrest the sword from his hand, or cut the halter, or drag him away from the precipice, or pour out the poison, boast yourself as the preserver of the man, when he, whom you think that you have preserved, does not thank you, and thinks that you have acted ill towards him, in averting from him the death which he desired, and in not permitting him to reach the end and rest from his labours? For a benefit ought not to be weighed according to the quality of the action, but according to the feelings of him who receives it. Why should you reckon as a benefit that which is an injury to me? Do you wish me to worship your gods, which I consider deadly to myself? If it is a good, I do not envy it. Enjoy your good by yourself. There is no reason why you should wish to succour my error, which I have undertaken by my judgment and inclination. If it is evil, why do you drag me to a participation in evil? Use your own fortune. I prefer to die in the practice of that which is good, than to live in evil.
Chap. LIV. - Of the Freedom of Religion in the Worship of God.
These things may indeed be said with justice. But who will hear, when men of furious and unbridled spirit think that their authority is diminished if there is any freedom in the affairs of men? But it is religion alone in which freedom has placed its dwelling. For it is a matter which is voluntary above all others, nor can necessity be imposed upon any, so as to worship that which he does not wish to worship.95 Some one may perhaps pretend, he cannot wish it. In short, some, through fear of torments, or overcome by tortures, have assented to detestable sacrifices: they never do that voluntarily which they did from necessity; but when the opportunity is again given to them, and liberty restored, they again betake themselves to God, and appease Him with prayers and tears, repenting not of the will, which they had not, but of the necessity which they endured; and pardon is not denied to those who make satisfaction. What then does he accomplish who pollutes the body, since he cannot change the will?
But, in fact, men of weak understanding, if they have induced any man of spirit96 to sacrifice to their gods, with incredible alacrity insolently exult, and rejoice, as though they had sent an enemy under the yoke. But if any one, neither frightened by threats nor by tortures, shall have chosen to prefer his faith to his life, cruelty puts forth all its ingenuity against him, plans dreadful and intolerable things; and because they know that death for the cause of God is glorious, and that this is a victory on our side, if, having overcome the torturers, we lay down our life in behalf of the faith and religion, they also themselves strive to conquer us. They do not put us to death. but they search out new and unheard-of tortures, that the frailty of the flesh may yield to pains, and if it does not yield, they put off further punishment, and apply diligent care to the wounds, that while the scars are yet fresh, a repetition of the torture may inflict more pain; and while they practise this torture97 upon the innocent, they evidently consider themselves pious, and just, and religious (for they are delighted with such sacrifices to their gods), but they term the others impious and desperate. What perversity is this, that he who is punished, though innocent, should be called desperate and impious, and that the torturer, on the other hand, should be called just and pious!
Chap. LV. - The Heathens Charge Justice with Impiety in Following God.
But they say that those are rightly and deservedly punished, who dislike the public rites of religion handed down to them by their ancestors. What if those ancestors were foolish in undertaking vain religious rites, as we have shown before, 245 shall we be prohibited from following true and better things? Why do we deprive ourselves of liberty, and become enslaved to the errors of others, as though bound98 to them? Let it be permitted us to be wise, let it be permitted us to inquire into the truth. But, however, if it pleases them to defend the folly99 of their ancestors, why are the Egyptians suffered to escape, who worship cattle and beasts of every kind as deities? Why are the gods themselves made the subjects of comic100 representations? and why is he honoured who derides them most wittily? Why are philosophers attended to, who either say that there are no gods, or that, if there are any, they take no interest in, and do not regard the affairs of men, or argue that there is no providence at all, which rules the world?
But they alone of all are judged impious who follow God and the truth. And since this is at once justice, and wisdom, they lay to its charge either impiety or folly, and do not perceive what it is which deceives them, when they call evil good, and good evil. Many indeed of the philosophers, and especially Plato and Aristotle, spoke many things about justice, asserting and extolling that virtue with the greatest praise, because it gives to each its due, because it maintains equity in all things; and whereas the other virtues are as it were silent, and shut up within, that it is justice alone which is neither concerned101 for itself only, nor hidden, but altogether shows itself102 abroad, and is ready for conferring a benefit, so as to assist as many as possible: as though in truth justice ought to be in judges only, and those placed in any post of authority, and not in all men.
And yet there is no one of men, not even of the lowest and of beggars, who is not capable of justice. But because they did not know what it was, from what source it proceeded, and what was its mode of operation, they assigned to a few only that highest virtue, that is, the common good of all, and said that it aimed at103 no advantages peculiar to itself, but only the interests of others. And not without reason was Carneades raised up, a man of the greatest talent and penetration, to refute their speech, and overthrow the justice, which had no firm foundation; not because he thought that justice was to be blamed, but that he might show that its defenders brought forward no firm or certain argument respecting justice.
Chap. LVI. - Of Justice, Which Is the Worship of the True God.
For if justice is the worship of the true God (for what is so just with respect to equity, so pious with respect to honour, so necessary with respect to safety, as to acknowledge God as a parent, to reverence Him as Lord, and to obey His law or precepts?), it follows that the philosophers were ignorant of justice, for they neither acknowledged God Himself, nor observed His worship and law; and on this account they might have been refuted by Carneades, whose disputation was to this effect, that there is no natural justice, and therefore that all animals defended their own interests by the guidance of nature itself, and therefore that justice, if it promotes the advantages of others and neglects its own, is to be called foolishness. But if all people who are possessed of power, and the Romans themselves, who are masters of the whole world, were willing to follow justice, and to restore to every one his property which they have seized by force and arms, they will return to cottages and a condition of want. And if they did this, they might indeed be just, but they must of necessity be considered foolish, who proceed to injure themselves for the advantage of others. Then, if any one should find a man who was through a mistake offering for sale gold as mountain-brass, or silver as lead, and necessity should compel him to buy it, will he conceal his knowledge and buy it for a small sum, or will he rather inform the seller of its value? If he shall inform him, he will manifestly be called just; but he will also be foolish, for conferring an advantage upon another, and injuring himself. But it is easy to judge in a case of injury. What if he shall incur danger of his life, so that it shall be necessary for him either to kill another or to die, what will he do? It may happen that, having suffered shipwreck, he may find some feeble person clinging to a plank; or, his army having been defeated, in his flight he may find a wounded man on horseback: will he thrust the one from the plank, the other from his horse, that he himself may be able to escape? If he shall wish to be just, he will not do it; but he will also be judged foolish, who in sparing the life of another shall lose his own. If he shall do it, he will indeed appear wise, because he will provide for his own interests; but he will also be wicked, because he will commit a wrong.
Chap. LVII. - Of Wisdom and Foolishness.
These things indeed are said with acuteness; but we are able very readily to reply to them. For the imitation of names causes it thus to appear. For justice bears a resemblance to foolishness, and yet it is not foolishness; and at the same time malice bears a resemblance to wisdom, and yet it is not wisdom. But as that malice is intelligent and shrewd in preserving its own interests, it is not wisdom, but cunning and craftiness; so likewise justice ought not to be called foolishness, but innocence, because 246 the just man must be wise, and the foolish man unjust. For neither reason nor nature itself permits that he who is just should not be wise, since it is plain that the just man does nothing except that which is right and good, and always avoids that which is perverted104 and evil. But who will be able to distinguish between good and evil, depravity and rectitude, but he who shall be wise? But the fool acts badly, because he is ignorant of what is good and evil. Therefore he does wrong, because he is unable to distinguish between things which are perverted and those which are right. Therefore justice cannot be befitting to the foolish man, nor wisdom to the unjust. He is not then a foolish person who has not thrust off a shipwrecked man from a plank, nor a wounded man from his horse, because he has abstained from injury, which is a sin; and it is the part of the wise man to avoid sin.
But that he should appear foolish at first sight is caused by this, that they suppose the soul to be extinguished together with the body; and for this reason they refer all advantage to this life. For if there is no existence after death, it is plain that he acts foolishly who spares the life of another to his own loss, or who consults the gain of another more than his own. If death destroys the soul, we must use our endeavours to live for a longer time, and more to our own advantage; but if there remains after death a life of immortality and blessedness, the just and wise man will certainly despise this corporeal existence, with all earthly goods, because he will know what kind of a reward he is about to receive from God. Therefore let us maintain innocency, let us maintain justice, let us undergo the appearance of foolishness, that we may be able to maintain true wisdom. And if it appears to men senseless and foolish to prefer torture and death rather than to sacrifice to gods, and to escape without harm, let u