When the day dawned which had been fixed for the discussion with Simon, Peter, rising at the first cock-crowing, aroused us also: for we were sleeping in the same apartment, thirteen of us in all;1 of whom, next to Peter, Zacchæus was first, then Sophonius, Joseph and Michæas, Eliesdrus, Phineas, Lazarus, and Elisæus: after these I (Clement) and Nicodemus; then Niceta and Aquila, who had formerly been disciples of Simon, and were converted to the faith of Christ under the teaching of Zacchæus. Of the women there was no one present. As the evening light2 was still lasting, we all sat down; and Peter, seeing that we were awake, and that we were giving attention to him, having saluted us, immediately began to speak, as follows: —
“I confess, brethren, that I wonder at the power of human nature, which I see to be fit and suited to every call upon it. This, however, it occurs to me to say of what I have found by experience, that when the middle of the night is passed, I awake of my own accord, and sleep does not come to me again. This happens to me for this reason, that I have formed the habit of recalling to memory the words of my Lord, which I heard from Himself; and for the longing I have towards them, I constrain my mind and my thoughts to be roused, that, awaking to them, and recalling and arranging them one by one, I may retain them in my memory. From this, therefore, whilst I desire to cherish the sayings of the Lord with all delight in my heart, the habit of waking has come upon me, even if there be nothing that I wish to think of. Thus, in some unaccountable way, when any custom is established, the old custom is changed, provided indeed yon do not force it above measure, but as far as the measure of nature admits. For it is not possible to be altogether without sleep; otherwise night would not have been made for rest.”
Chap. II. — Curtailment of Sleep.
Then I, when I heard this, said: “You have very well said, O Peter; for one custom is superseded by another. For when I was at sea, I was at first distressed, and all my system was disordered, so that I felt as if I had been beaten, and could not bear the tossing and tumult of the sea; but after a few days, when I had got accustomed to it, I began to bear it tolerably, so that I was glad to take food immediately in the morning along with the sailors, whereas before it was not my custom to eat anything before the seventh hour. Now, therefore, simply from the custom which I then acquired, hunger reminds me about that time at which I used to eat with the sailors; which, however, I hope to get rid of, when once another custom shall have been formed. I believe, therefore, that you also have acquired the habit of wakefulness, as yon state; and you have wished at a fitting time to explain this to us, that we also may not grudge to throw off and dispense with some portion of our sleep, that we may be able to take in the precepts of the living doctrine. For when the food is digested, and the mind is under the influence of the silence of night, those things which are seasonably taught abide in it.”
Chap. III. — Need of Caution.
Then Peter, being pleased to hear that I understood the purport of his preface, that he had delivered it for our advantage; and commending me, doubtless for the purpose of encouraging, and stimulating me, began to deliver the following discourse:3 “It seems to me to be seasonable and necessary to have some discussion relating to those things that are near at hand; that is, concerning Simon. For I should wish to know of what character and of what conduct he is. Wherefore, if any one of you has any knowledge of him, let him not fail to inform me; for it is of consequence to know these things beforehand. For if we have it in charge, 98 that when we enter into a city we should first learn who in it is worthy, (Mat_10:11) that we may eat with him, how much more is it proper for us to ascertain who or what sort of man he is to whom the words of immortality are to be committed! For we ought to be careful, yea, extremely careful, that we cast not our pearls before swine. (Mat_7:6)
Chap. IV. — Prudence in Dealing with Opponents.
“But for other reasons also it is of importance that I should have some knowledge of this man. For if I know that in those things concerning which it cannot be doubted that they are good, he is faultless and irreproachable, — that is to say, if he is sober, merciful, upright, gentle, and humane, which no one doubts to be good qualities, — then it will seem to be fitting, that upon him who possesses these good virtues, that which is lacking of faith and knowledge should be conferred; and so his life, which is in other respects worthy of approbation, should be amended in those points in which it shall appear to be imperfect. But if he remains wrapped up and polluted in those sins which are manifestly such, it does not become me to speak to him at all of the more secret and sacred things of divine knowledge, but rather to protest and confront him, that he cease from sin, and cleanse his actions from vice. But if he insinuate himself, and lead us on to speak what he, while he acts improperly, ought not to hear, it will be our part to parry him cautiously. For not to answer him at all does not seem proper, for the sake of the hearers, lest haply they may think that we decline the contest through want of ability to answer him, and so their faith may be injured through their misunderstanding of our purpose.”
Chap. V. — Simon Magus, a Formidable Antagonist.
When Peter had thus spoken to us, Niceta asks permission to say something to him;4 and Peter having granted permission, he says: “With your pardon, I beseech you, my lord Peter, to hear me, who am very anxious for thee, and who am afraid lest, in the contest which you have in hand with Simon, you should seem to be overmatched. For it very frequently happens that he who defends the truth does not gain the victory, since the hearers are either prejudiced, or have no great interest in the better cause. But over and above all this, Simon himself is a most vehement orator, trained in the dialectic art, and in the meshes of syllogisms; and what is worse than all, he is greatly skilled in the magic art. And therefore I fear, test haply, being so strongly fortified on every side, he shall be thought to be defending the truth, whilst he is alleging falsehoods, in the presence of those who do not know him. For neither should we ourselves have been able to escape from him, and to be converted to the Lord, had it not been that, while we were his assistants, and the sharers of his errors, we had ascertained that he was a deceiver and a magician.”
Chap. VI. — Simon Magus: His Wickedness.
When Niceta had thus spoken, Aquila also, asking that he might be permitted to speak, proceeded in manner following: “Receive, I entreat thee, most excellent Peter, the assurance of my love towards thee; for indeed I also am extremely anxious on thy account. And do not blame us in this, for indeed to be concerned for any one cometh of affection; whereas to be indifferent is no less than hatred. But I call God to witness that I feel for thee, not as knowing thee to be weaker in debate, — for indeed I was never present at any dispute in which thou wert engaged, — bit because I well know the impieties of this man, I think of thy reputation, and at the same time the souls of the hearers, and above all, the interests of the truth itself. For this magician is vehement towards all things that he wishes, and wicked above measure. For in all things we know him well, since from boyhood we have been assistants and ministers of his wickedness; and had not the love of God rescued is from him, we should even now be engaged in the same evil deeds with him. But a certain inborn love towards God rendered his wickedness hateful to us, and the worship of God attractive to us. Whence I think also that it was the work of Divine Providence, that we, being first made his associates, should take knowledge in what manner or by what art the effects the prodigies which he seems to work. For who is there that would not be astonished at the wonderful things which he does? Who would not think that he was a god come down from heaven for the salvation of men? For myself, I confess, if I had not known latin intimately, and had taken part in his doings, I would easily have been carried away with him. Whence it was no great thing for us to be separated from his society, knowing as we did that he depends upon magic arts and wicked devices. But if thou also thyself wish to know all about him — who, what, and whence he is, and bow he contrives what he does — then listen.
Chap. VII. — Simon Magus: His History.
“This Simon’s father was Antonius, and his mother Rachel. By nation he is a Samaritan, from a village of the Gettones; by profession a magician 99 yet exceedingly well trained in the Greek literature; desirous of glory, and boasting above all the human race, so that he wishes himself to be believed to be an exalted power, which is above God the Creator, and to be thought to be the Christ, and to be called the StandingOne. And he uses this name as implying that he can never be dissolved, asserting that his flesh is so compacted by the power of his divinity, that it can endure to eternity. Hence, therefore, he is called the StandingOne, as though he cannot fall by any corruption.
Chap. VIII. — Simon Magus: His History.
“For after that John the Baptist was killed, as you yourself also know, when Dositheus had broached his heresy,5 with thirty other chief disciples, and one woman, who was called Luna6 — whence also these thirty appear to have been appointed with reference to the number of the days, according to the course of the moon — this Simon ambitious of evil glory, as we have said, goes to Dositheus, and pretending friendship, entreats him, that if any one of those thirty should die, he should straightway substitute him in room of the dead: for it was contrary to their rule either to exceed the fixed number, or to admit any one who was unknown, or not yet proved; whence also the rest, desiring to become worthy of the place and number, are eager in every way to please, according to the institutions of their sect each one of those who aspire after admittance into the number, hoping that he may be deemed worthy to be put into the place of the deceased, when, as we have said, any one dies. Therefore Dositheus, being greatly urged by this man, introduced Simon when a vacancy occurred among the number.
Chap. IX. — Simon Magus: His Profession.
“But not long after he fell in love with that woman whom they call Luna; and he confided all things to us as his friends: how he was a magician, and how he loved Luna, and how, being desirous of glory, he was unwilling to enjoy her ingloriously, but that he was waiting patiently till he could enjoy her honourably; yet so if we also would conspire with him towards the accomplishment of his desires. And he promised that, as a reward of this service, he would cause us to be invested with the highest honours, and we should be believed by men to be gods; ‘Only, however, on condition,’ says he, ‘that you confer the chief place upon me, Simon, who by magic art am able to show many signs and prodigies, by means of which either my glory or our sect may be established. For I am able to render myself invisible to those who wish to lay hold of me, and again to be visible when I am willing to be seen.7 If I wish to flee, I can dig through the mountains, and pass through rocks as if they were clay. If I should throw myself headlong from a lofty mountain, I should be borne unhurt to the earth, as if I were held up; when bound, I can loose myself, and bind those who had bound me; being shut up in prison, I can make the barriers open of their own accord; I can render statues animated, so that those who see suppose that they are men. I can make new trees suddenly spring up, and produce sprouts at once. I can throw myself into the fire, and not be burnt; I can change my countenance, so that I cannot be recognised; but I can show people that I have two faces. I shall change myself into a sheep or a goat; I shall make a beard to grow upon little boys; I shall ascend by flight into the air; I shall exhibit abundance of gold, and shall make and unmake kings. I shall be worshipped as God; I shall have divine honours publicly assigned to me, so that an image of me shall be set up, and I shall be worshipped and adored as God. And what need of more words? Whatever I wish, that I shall be able to do. For already I have achieved many things by way of experiment. In short,’ says he, ‘once when my mother Rachel ordered me to go to the field to reap, and I saw a sickle lying, I ordered it to go and reap; and it reaped ten times more than the others. Lately, I produced many new sprouts from the earth, and made them bear leaves and produce fruit in a moment; and the nearest mountain I successfully bored through.’
Chap. X. — Simon Magus: His Deception.
“But when he spoke thus of the production of sprouts and the perforation of the mountain, I was confounded on this account, because he wished to deceive even us, in whom he seemed to place confidence; for we knew that those things had been from the days of our fathers, which he represented as having been done by himself lately. We then, although we heard these atrocities from him, and worse than these, yet we followed up his crimes, and suffered others to be deceived by him, telling also many lies on his behalf; and this before he did any of the things which he had promised, so that while as yet he had done nothing, he was by some thought to be God. 100
Chap. XI. — Simon Magus, at the Head of the Sect of Dositheus.
“Meantime, at the outset, as soon as he was reckoned among the thirty disciples of Dositheus, he began to depreciate Dositheus himself, saying that he did not teach purely or perfectly, and that this was the result not of ill intention, but of ignorance. But Dositheus, when he perceived that Simon was depreciating him, fearing lest his reputation among men might be obscured (for he himself was supposed to be the StandingOne), moved with rage, when they met as usual at the school, seized a rod, and began to beat Simon; but suddenly the rod seemed to pass through his body, as if it had been smoke. On which Dositheus, being astonished, says to him, ‘Tell me if thou art the StandingOne, that I may adore thee.’ And when Simon answered that he was, then Dositheus, perceiving that he himself was not the StandingOne, fell down and worshipped him, and gave up his own place as chief to Simon, ordering all the rank of thirty men to obey him; himself taking the inferior place which Simon formerly occupied. Not long after this he died.
Chap. XII. — Simon Magus and Luna.
“Therefore, after the death of Dositheus Simon took Luna to himself; and with her he still goes about, as you see, deceiving multitudes, and asserting that he himself is a certain power which is above God the Creator, while Luna, who is with him, has been brought down from the higher heavens, and that she is Wisdom, the mother of all things, for whom, says he, the Greeks and barbarians contending, were able in some measure to see an image of her; but of herself, as she is, as the dweller with the first and only God, they were wholly ignorant. Propounding these and other things of the same sort, he has deceived many. But I ought also to state this, which I remember that I myself saw. Once, when this Luna of his was in a certain tower, a great multitude had assembled to see her, and were standing around the tower on all sides; but she was seen by all the people to lean forward, and to look out through all the windows of that tower.8 Many other wonderful things lie did and does; so that men, being astonished at them, think that he himself is the great God.
Chap. XIII. — Simon Magus: Secret of His Magic.
“Now when Niceta and I once asked him to explain to us how these things could be effected by magic art, and what was the nature of that thing, Simon began thus to explain it to us as his associates. ‘I have,’ said he, ‘made the soul of a boy, unsullied and violently slain, and invoked by unutterable adjurations, to assist me; and by it all is done that I command.’ ‘But,’ said I ‘is it possible for a soul to do these things?’ He answered: ‘I would have you know this, that the soul of man holds the next place after God, when once it is set free from the darkness of his body. And immediately it acquires prescience: wherefore it is invoked for necromancy.’ Then I answered: ‘Why, then, do not the souls of persons who are slain take vengeance on their slayers?’ ‘Do you not remember,’ said he, ‘that I told you, that when it goes out of the body it acquires knowledge of the future?’ ‘I remember,’ said I. ‘Well, then,’ said he, ‘as soon as it goes out of the body, it immediately knows that there is a judgment to come, and that every one shall suffer punishment for those evils that he hath done; and therefore they are unwilling to take vengeance on their slayers, because they themselves are enduring torments for their own evil deeds which they had done here, and they know that severer punishments await them in the judgment. Moreover, they are not permitted by the angels who preside over them to go out, or to do anything.’ ‘Them’ I replied, ‘if the angels do not permit them to come hither, or to do what they please, how can the souls obey the magician who invokes them?’ ‘It is not,’ said he, ‘that they grant indulgence to the souls that are willing to come: but when the presiding angels are adjured by one greater than themselves, they have the excuse of our violence who adjure them, to permit the souls which we invoke to go out: for they do not sin who suffer violence, but we who impose necessity upon them.’ Thereupon Niceta, not able longer to refrain, hastily answered, as indeed I also was about to do, only I wished first to get information from him on several points; but, as I said, Niceta, anticipating me, said: ‘And do you not fear the day of judgment, who do violence to angels, and invoke souls, and deceive men, and bargain for divine honour to yourself from then? And how do you persuade us that there shall be no judgment, as some of the Jews confess, and that souls are not immortal, as many suppose, though you see them with your very eyes, and receive from them assurance of the divine judgment?’
Chap. XIV. — Simon Magus, Professes to Be God.
“At those sayings of his Simon grew pale; but after a little, recollecting himself, he thus answered: ‘Do not think that I am a man of your race. I am neither magician, nor lover 101 of Luna, nor son of Antonius. For before my mother Rachel and he came together, she, still a virgin, conceived me, while it was in my power to be either small or great, and to appear as a man among men.9 Therefore I have chosen you first as my friends, for the purpose of trying you, that I may place you first in my heavenly and unspeakable places when I shall have proved you. Therefore I have pretended to be a man, that I might more clearly ascertain if you cherish entire affection towards me.’ But when I heard that, judging him indeed to be a wretch, yet wondering at his impudence; and blushing for him, and at the same thee fearing lest he should attempt some evil against us, I beckoned to Niceta to feign for a little along with me, and said to him: ‘Be not angry with us, corruptible men, O thou incorruptible God, but rather accept our affection, and our mind willing to know who God is; for we did not till now know who thou art, nor did we perceive that thou art he whom we were seeking.’
Chap. XV. — Simon Magus, Professed to Have Made a Boy of Air.
“As we spoke these and such like words with looks suited to the occasion, this most vain fellow believed that we were deceived; and being thereby the more elated, he added also this: ‘I shall now be propitious to you, for the affection which you bear towards me as God; for you loved me while you did not know me, and were seeking me in ignorance. But I would not have you doubt that this is truly to be God, when one is able to become small or great as he pleases; for I am able to appear to man in whatever manner I please. Now, then, I shall begin to unfold to you what is true. Once on a thee, I, by my power, turning air into water, and water again into blood, and solidifying it into flesh, formed a new human creature — a boy — and produced a much nobler work than God the Creator. For He created a man from the earth, but I from air — a far more difficult matter; and again I unmade him and restored him to air, but not until I had placed his picture and image in my bed-chamber, as a proof and memorial of my work.’ Then we understood that he spake concerning that boy, whose soul, after he had been slain by violence, he made use of for those services which he required.
Chap. XVI. — Simon Magus: Hopelessness of His Case.
But Peter, hearing these things, said with: tears:10 “Greatly do I wonder at the infinite patience of God, and, on the other hand, at the audacity of human rashness in some. For what further reason can be found to persuade Simon that God judges the unrighteous, since he persuades himself that he employs the obedience of souls for the service of his crimes? But, in truth, he is deluded by demons. Yet, although he is sure by these very things that souls are immortal, and are judged for the deeds which they have done, and although he thinks that he really sees those things which we believe by faith; though, as I said, he is deluded by demons, yet he thinks that he sees the very substance of the soul. How shall such a man, I say, be brought to confess either that he acts wickedly while he occupies such an evil position, or that he is to be judged for those things which he hath done, who, knowing the judgment of God, despises it, and shows himself an enemy to God, and dares commit such horrid things? Wherefore it is certain, my brethren, that some oppose the truth and religion of God, not because it appears to them that reason can by no means stand with faith, but because they are either involved in excess of wickedness, or prevented by their own evils, or elated by the swelling of their heart, so that they do not even believe those things which they think that they see with their own eyes.
Chap. XVII. — Men Enemies to God.
“But, inasmuch as inborn affection towards God the Creator seemed to suffice for salvation to those who loved Him, the enemy studies to pervert this affection in men, and to render them hostile and ungrateful to their Creator. For I call heaven and earth to witness, that if God permitted the enemy to rage as much as he desires, all men should have perished long ere now; but for His mercy’s sake God doth not suffer him. But if men would turn their affection towards God, all would doubtless be saved, even if for some faults they might seem to be corrected for righteousness But now the most of men have been made enemies of God, whose hearts the wicked one has entered, and has turned aside towards himself the affection which God the Creator had implanted in them, that they might have it towards Him. But of the rest, who seemed for a thee to be watchful, the enemy, appearing in a phantasy of glory and splendour, and promising them certain great and mighty things, has caused their mind and heart to wander away from God; yet it is for some just reason that he is permitted to accomplish these things.” 102
Chap. XVIII. — Responsibility of Men.
“To this Aquila answered: “How, then, are men in fault, if the wicked one, transforming himself into the brightness of light, (2Co_11:14) promises to men greater things than the Creator Himself does?” Then Peter answered: “I think,” says he “that nothing is more unjust than this; and now listen while I tell you how unjust it is. If your son, whom you have trained and nourished with all care, and brought to man’s estate, should be ungrateful to you, and should leave you and go to another, whom perhaps he may have seen to be richer, and should show to him the honour which he owed to you, and, through hope of greater profit, should deny his birth, and refuse you your paternal rights, would this seem to you right or wicked?” Then Aquila answered: “It is manifest to all that it would be wicked.” Then Peter said: “If you say that this would be wicked among men, how much more so is it in the case of God, who, above all men, is worthy of honour from men; whose benefits we not only enjoy, but by whose means and power it is that we began to be when we were not, and whom, if we please, we shall obtain from Him to be for ever in blessedness! In order, therefore, that the unfaithful may be distinguished from the faithful, and the pious from the impious, it has been permitted to the wicked one to use those arts by which the affections of every one towards the true Father may be proved. But if there were in truth some strange God, were it right to leave our own God, who created us, and who is our Father and our Maker, and to pass over to another?” “God forbid!” said Aquila. Then said Peter: “How, then, shall we say that the wicked one is the cause of our sin, when this is done by permission of God, that those may be proved and condemned in the day of judgment, who, allured by greater promises, have abandoned their duty towards their true Father and Creator; while those who have kept the faith and the love of their own Father, even with poverty, if so it has befallen, and with tribulation, may enjoy heavenly gifts and immortal dignities in His kingdom But we shall expound these things more carefully at another time. Meantime I desire to know what Simon did after this.”
Chap. XIX. — Disputation Begun.
And Niceta answered: “When he perceived that we had found him out, having spoken to one another concerning his crimes we left him, and came to Zacchæus, telling him those same things which we have now told to you. But he, receiving us most kindly, and instructing us concerning the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, enrolled us in the number of the faithful.” When Niceta had done speaking, Zacchæus, who had gone out a little before, entered, saying, “It is thee, O Peter, that yon proceed to the disputation; for a great crowd, collected in the court of the house, is awaiting you, in the midst of whom stands Simon, supported by many attendants.” Then Peter, when he heard this, ordering me to withdraw for the sake of prayer (for I had not yet been washed from the sins which I had committed in ignorance), said to the rest, “Brethren, let its pray that God, for His unspeakable mercy through His Christ, would help me going out on behalf of the salvation of men who have been created by Him.” Having said this, at, it having prayed, he went forth to the court of the house, in which a great multitude of people were assembled; and when he saw them all looking intently on him in profound silence, and Simon the magician standing in the midst of them like a standard-bearer, he began in manner following.11 103
Chap. XX. — The Kingdom of God and His Righteousness.
“Peace be to all of you who are prepared to give your right hands to truth:12 for whosoever are obedient to it seem indeed themselves to confer some favour upon God; whereas they do themselves obtain from Him the gift of His greatest bounty, walking in His paths of righteousness. Wherefore the first duty of all is to inquire, into the righteousness of God and His kingdom; (Mat_6:33) His righteousness, that we may be taught to act rightly; His kingdom, that we may know what is the reward appointed for labour and patience; in which kingdom there is indeed a bestowal of eternal good things upon the good, but upon those who have acted contrary to the will of God, a worthy infliction of penalties in proportion to the doings of every one. It becomes you, therefore, whilst you are here, — that is, whilst you are in the present life, — to ascertain the will of God, while there is opportunity also of doing it. For if any one, before he amends his doings, wishes to investigate concerning things which he cannot discover, such investigation will be foolish and ineffectual. For the thee is short, and the judgment of God shall be occupied with deeds, not questions. Therefore before all things let us inquire into this, what or in what manner we must act that we may merit to obtain eternal life.
Chap. XXI. — Righteousness the Way to the Kingdom.
“For if we occupy the short thee of this life with vain and useless questions, we shall without doubt go into the presence of God empty and void of good works, when, as I have said, our works shall be brought into judgment. For everything has its own thee and place. This is the place, this the thee of works; the world to come, that of recompenses. That we may not therefore be entangled, by changing the order of places and times, let us inquire, in the first place, what is the righteousness of God; so that, like persons going to set out on a journey, we may be filled with good works as with abundant provision, so that we may be able to come to the kingdom of God, as to a very great city. For to those who think aright, God is manifest even by the operations of the world which He hat made, using the evidence of His creation; (Rom_1:20) and therefore, since there ought to be no doubt! about God, we have now to inquire only about His righteousness and His kingdom. But if our mind suggest to us to make any inquiry concerning secret and hidden things before we inquire into the works of righteousness, we ought to render to ourselves a reason, because if acting well we shall merit to obtain salvation: then, going to God chaste and clean, we shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, and shall know all things that are secret and hidden, without any cavilling of questions; whereas now, even if any one should spend the whole of his life in inquiring into these things, he not only shall not be able to find them, but shall involve himself in greater errors, because he did not first enter through the way of righteousness, and strive to reach the haven of life.
Chap. XXII. — Righteousness; What It Is.
“And therefore I advise that His righteousness be first inquired into, that, pursuing our journey through it, and placed in the way of truth, we may be able to find the true Prophet, running not with swiftness of foot, but with goodness of works, and that, enjoying His guidance, we may be trader no danger of mistaking the way. For if under His guidance we shall merit to enter that city to which we desire to come, all things concerning which we now inquire we shall see with our eyes, being made, as it were, heirs of all things. Understand, therefore, that the way is this course of our life; the travellers are those who do good works; the gate is the true Prophet, of whom we speak; the city is the kingdom in which dwells the Almighty Father, whom only those can see who are of pure heart. (Mat_5:8) Let us not then think the labour of this journey hard, because at the end of it there shall be rest. For the true Prophet Himself also from the beginning of the world, through the course of time, hastens to rest. For He is present with us at all times; and if at any thee it is necessary, He appears and corrects us, that He may bring to eternal life those who obey Him. Therefore this is my judgment, as also it is the pleasure of the true Prophet, that inquiry should first be made concerning righteousness, by those especially who profess that they know God. If therefore any one has anything to propose which he thinks better, let him speak; and when he has spoken, let him hear, but with patience and quietness: for in order to this at the first, by way of salutation, I prayed for peace to you all.”
Chap. XXIII. — Simon Refuses Peace.
To this Simon answered:13 “We have no need of your peace; for if there be peace and concord, 104 we shall not be able to make any advance towards the discovery of truth. For robbers and debauchees have peace among themselves, and every wickedness agrees with itself; and if we have met with this view, that for the sake of peace we should give assent to all that is said, we shall confer no benefit upon the hearers; but, on the contrary, we shall impose upon them, and shall depart friends. Wherefore, do not invoke peace, but rather battle, which is the mother of peace; and if you can, exterminate errors. And do not seek for friendship obtained by unfair admissions; for this I would have you know, above all, that when two fight with each other, then there will be peace when one has been defeated and has fallen. And therefore fight as best you can, and do not expect peace without war, which is impossible; or if it can be attained, show us how.”
Chap. XXIV. — Peter’s Explanation.
To this Peter answered: “Hear with all attention, O men, what we say. Let us suppose that this world is a great plain, and that from two states, whose kings are at variance with each other, two generals were sent to fight: and suppose the general of the good king gave this counsel, that both armies should without bloodshed submit to the authority of the better king, whereby all should be safe without danger; but that the opposite general should say, No, but we must fight; that not he who is worthy, but who is stronger, may reign, with those who shall escape; — which, I ask you, would you rather choose? I doubt not but that you would give your hands to the better king, with the safety of all. And I do not now wish, as Simon says that I do, that assent should be given, for the sake of peace, to those things that are spoken amiss but that truth be sought for with quietness and order.
Chap. XXV. — Principles on Which the Discussion Should Be Conducted.
“For some, in the contest of disputations, when they perceive that their error is confuted, immediately begin, for the sake of making good their retreat, to create a disturbance, and to stir up strifes, that it may not be manifest to all that they are defeated; and therefore I frequently entreat that the investigation of the matter in dispute may be conducted with all patience and quietness, so that if perchance anything seem to be not rightly spoken, it may be allowed to go back over it, and explain it more distinctly. For sometimes a thing may be spoken in one way and heard in another, while it is either advanced too obscurely, or not attended to with sufficient care; and on this account I desire that our conversation should be conducted patiently, so that neither should the one snatch it away from the other, nor should the unseasonable speech of one contradicting interrupt the speech of the other; and that we should not cherish the desire of finding fault, but that we should be allowed, as I have said, to go over again what has not been clearly enough spoken, that by fairest examination the knowledge of the truth may become clearer. For we ought to know, that if any one is conquered by the truth, it is not he that is conquered, but the ignorance which is in him, which is the worst of all demons; so that he who can drive it out receives the palm of salvation. For it is our purpose to benefit the hearers, not that we may conquer badly, but that we may be well conquered for the acknowledgment of the truth. For if our speech be actuated by the desire of seeking the truth, even although we shall speak anything imperfectly through human frailty, God in His unspeakable goodness will fill up secretly in the understandings of the hearers those things that are lacking. For He is righteous; and according to the purpose of every one, He enables some to find easily what they seek, while to others He renders even that obscure which is before their eyes. Since, then, the way of God is the way of peace, let us with peace seek the things which are God’s. If any one has anything to advance in answer to this, let him do so; but if there is no one who wishes to answer, I shall begin to speak, and I myself shall bring forward what another may object to me, and shall refute it.”
Chap. XXVI. — Simon’s Interruption.
When therefore Peter had begun to continue his discourse, Simon, interrupting his speech, said: “Why do you hasten to speak whatever you please? I understand your tricks. You wish to bring forward those matters whose explanation you have well studied, that you may appear to the ignorant crowd to be speaking well; but I shall not allow you this subterfuge. Now therefore, since you promise, as a brave man, to answer to all that any one chooses to bring forward, be pleased to answer me in the first place.” Then Peter said: “I am ready, only provided that our discussion may be with peace.” Then Simon said: “Do not you see, O simpleton, that in pleading for peace you act in opposition to your Master, and that what you propose is not suitable to him who promises that he will overthrow ignorance? Or, if you are right in asking peace from the audience, then your Master was wrong in saying, ‘I have not come to send peace on earth, but a sword. (Mat_10:34) For either you say well, and he not well; or else, if your Master 105 said well, then you not at all well: for you do not understand that your statement is contrary to his, whose disciple you profess yourself to be.”
Chap. XXVII. — Questions and Answers.
Then Peter: “Neither He who sent me did amiss in sending a sword upon the earth, nor do I act contrary to Him in asking peace of the hearers. But you both unskilfully and rashly find fault with what you do not understand: for you have heard that the Master came not to send peace on earth; but that He also said, ‘Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the very sons of God,” (Mat_5:9) you have not heard. Wherefore my sentiments are not different from those of the Master when I recommend peace, to the keepers of which He assigned blessedness.” Then Simon said: “In your desire to answer for your Master, O Peter, you have brought a much more serious charge against him, if he himself came not to make peace, yet enjoined upon others to keep it. Where, then, is the consistency of that other saying of his, ‘it is enough for the disciple that he be as his master?’” (Mat_10:25)
Chap. XXVIII. — Consistency of Christ’s Teaching.
To this Peter answered: “Our Master, who was the true Prophet, and ever mindful of Himself, neither contradicted Himself, nor enjoined upon us anything different from what Himself practised. For whereas He said, ‘I am not come to send peace on earth, but a sword; and henceforth you shall see father separated from son, son from father, husband from wife and wife from husband, mother from daughter and daughter from mother, brother from brother, father-in-law from daughter-in-law friend from friend,’ all these contain the doctrine of peace; and; will tell you how. At the beginning of His preaching, as wishing to invite and lead all to salvation, and induce them to bear patiently labours and trials, He blessed the poor, and promised that they should obtain the kingdom of heaven for their endurance of poverty, in order that under the influence of such a hope they might bear with equanimity the wright of poverty, despising covetousness; for covetousness is one, and the greatest, of most pernicious sins. But He promised also that the hungry and the thirsty should be satisfied with the eternal blessings of righteousness, in order that they might bear poverty patiently, and not be led by it to undertake any unrighteous work. In like manner, also, He said that the pure in heart are blessed, and that thereby they should see God, in order that every one desiring so great a good might keep himself from evil and polluted thoughts.
Chap. XXIX. — Peace and Strife.
“Thus, therefore, our Master, inviting His disciples to patience, impressed upon them that the blessing of peace was also to be preserved with the labour of patience. But, on the other hand, He mourned over those who lived in riches and luxury, who bestowed nothing upon the poor; proving that they must render an account, because they did not pity their neighbours, even when they were in poverty, whom they ought to I love as themselves. And by such sayings as these He brought some indeed to obey Him, but others He rendered hostile. The believers therefore, and the obedient, He charges to have peace among themselves, and says to them, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the very sons of God.’ (Mat_5:9) But to those who not only did not believe, but set themselves in opposition to His doctrine, He proclaims the war of the word and of confutation, and says that ‘henceforth ye shall see son separated from father, and husband from wife, and daughter from mother, and brother from brother, and daughter-in-law from mother-in-law, and a man’s foes shall be they of his own house.’ (Mat_10:35,Mat_10:36; Luk_12:53) For in every house, when there begins to be a difference betwixt believer and unbeliever, there is necessarily a contest: the unbelievers, on the one hand, fighting against the faith; and the believers on the other, confuting the old error and the vices of sins in them.
Chap. XXX. — Peace to the Sons of Peace.
“In like manner, also, during the last period of His teaching, He wages war against the scribes and Pharisees, charging them with evil deeds and unsound doctrine, and with hiding the key of knowledge which they had handed down to them from Moses, by which the gate of the heavenly kingdom might be opened. (Mat_23:1-39; Luk_11:1-54) But when our Master sent us forth to preach, He commanded as, that into whatsoever city or house we should enter, we should say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ ‘And if,’ said He, ‘a son of peace be there, your peace shall come upon him; but if there be not, your peace shall return to you.’ Also that, going out from that house or city, we should shake off upon them the very dust which adhered to our feet. But it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city or house.’ (Mat_10:12-15; Luk_10:5,Luk_10:6) This indeed He 106 commanded to be done at length, if first the word of truth be preached in the city or house, whereby they who receive the faith of the truth may become sons of peace and sons of God; and those who will not receive it may be convicted as enemies of peace and of God.
Chap. XXXI. — Peace and War.
“Thus, therefore, we, observing the commands of our Master, first offer peace to our hearers, that the way of salvation may be known without any tumult. But if any one do not receive the words of peace, nor acquiesce in the truth, we know how to direct against him the war of the word, and to rebuke him sharply by confuting his ignorance and charging home upon him his sins. Therefore of necessity we offer peace, that if any one is a son of peace, our peace may come upon him; but from him who makes himself an enemy of peace, our peace shall return to ourselves. We do not therefore, as you say, propose peace by agreement with the wicked, for indeed we should straightway have given you the right hand; but only in order that, through our discussing quietly and patiently, it might be more easily ascertained by the hearers which is the true speech. But if you differ and disagree with yourself, how shall you stand? He must of necessity fall who is divided in himself; ‘for every kingdom divided against itself shall not stand.’ (Mat_12:25) If you have aught to say to this, say on.”
Chap. XXXII. — Simon’s Challenge.
Then said Simon: “I am astonished at your folly. For you so propound the words of your Master, as if it were held to be certain concerning him that he is a prophet; while I can very easily prove that he often contradicted himself. In short, I shall refute you from those words which you have yourself brought forward. For you say, that he said that every kingdom or every city divided in itself shall not stand; and elsewhere you say, that he said that he would send a sword, that he might separate those who are in one house, so that son shall be divided from father, daughter from mother, brother from brother; so that if there be five in one house, three shall be divided against two, and two against three. (Luk_12:51-53) if, then, everything that is divided falls, he who makes divisions furnishes causes of falling; and if he is such, assuredly he is wicked. Answer this if you can.”
Chap. XXXIII. — Authority.
Then Peter: “Do not rashly take exception, O Simon, against the things which you do not understand. In the first place, I shall answer your assertion, that I set forth the words of my Master, and from them resolve matters about which there is still doubt. Our Lord, when He sent us apostles to preach, enjoined us to teach all nations (Mat_28:19,Mat_28:20) the things which were committed to us. We cannot therefore speak those things as they were spoken by Himself. For our commission is not to speak, but to teach those things, and from them to show how every one of them rests upon truth. Nor, again, are we permitted to speak anything of our own. For we are sent; and of necessity he who is sent delivers the message as he has been ordered, and sets forth the will of the sender. For if I should speak anything different from what He who sent me enjoined me, I should be a false apostle, not saying what I am commanded to say, but what seems good to myself. Whoever does this, evidently wishes to show himself to be better than he is by whom he is sent, and without doubt is a traitor. If, on the contrary, he keeps by the things that he is commanded, and brings forward most clear assertions of them, it will appear that he is accomplishing the work of an apostle; and it is by striving to fulfil this that I displease you. Blame me not, therefore, because I bring forward the words of Him who sent me. But if there is aught in them that is not fairly spoken, you have liberty to confute me; but this can in no wise be done, for He is a prophet, and cannot be contrary to Himself. But if you do not think that He is a prophet, let this be first inquired into.”
Chap. XXXIV. — Order of Proof.
Then said Simon: “I have no need to learn this from you, but how these things agree with one another. For if he shall be shown to be inconsistent, he shall be proved at the same thee not to be a prophet.” Then says Peter: “But if I first show Him to be a prophet, it will follow that what seems to be inconsistency is not such. For no one can be proved to be a prophet merely by consistency, because it is possible for many to attain this; but if consistency does not make a prophet, much more inconsistency does not. Because, therefore, there are many things which to some seem inconsistent, which yet have consistency in them on a more profound investigation; as also other things which seem to have consistency, but which, being more carefully discussed, are found to be inconsistent; for this reason I do not think there is any better way to judge of these things than to ascertain in the first instance whether He be a prophet who has spoken those things which appear to be inconsistent. For it is evident that, if He be found a 107 prophet, those things which seem to be contradictory must have consistency, but are misunderstood. Concerning these things, therefore, proofs will be properly demanded. For we apostles are sent to expound the sayings and affirm the judgments of Him who has sent us; but we are not commissioned to say anything of our own, but to unfold the truth, as I have said, of His words.”
Chap. XXXV. — How Error Cannot Stand with Truth.
Then Simon said: “Instruct us, therefore, how it can be consistent that he who causes divisions, which divisions cause those who are divided to fall, can either seem to be good, or to have come for the salvation of men.” Then Peter said: “I will tell you how our Master said that every, kingdom and every house divided against itself cannot stand; and whereas He Himself did this, see how it makes for salvation. By the word of truth He certainly divides the kingdom of the world, which is founded in error, and every home in it, that error may fall, and truth may reign. But if it happen to any house, that error, being introduced by any one, divides the truth, then, where error has gained a footing, it is certain that truth cannot stand.” Then Simon said: “But it is uncertain whether your master divides error or truth.” Then Peter: “That belongs to another question; but if you are agreed that everything which is divided falls, it remains that I show, if only you will hear in peace, that our Jesus has divided and dispelled error by teaching truth.”
Chap. XXXVI. — Altercation.
Then said Simon: “Do not repeat again and again your talk of peace, but expound briefly what it is that you think or believe.” Peter answered: “Why are you afraid of hearing frequently of peace? or do you not know that peace is the perfection of law? For wars and disputes spring from sins; and where there is no sin, there is peace of soul; but where there is peace, truth is found in disputations, righteousness in works.” Then Simon: “You seem to me not to be able to profess what you think.” Then Peter: “I shall speak, but according to my own judgment, not under constraint of your tricks. For I desire that what is salutary and profitable be brought to the knowledge of all and therefore I shall not delay to state it as briefly as possible. There is one God; and He is the creator of the world, a righteous judge, rendering to every one at some time or other according to his deeds.14 But now for the assertion of these things I know that countless thousands of words can be called forth.”
Chap. XXXVII. — Simon’s Subtlety.
Then Simon said: “I admire, indeed, the quickness of your wit, yet I do not embrace the error of your faith. For you have wisely foreseen that you may be contradicted; and you have even politely confessed, that for the assertion of these things countless thousands of words will be called forth, for no one agrees with the profession of your faith. In short, as to there being one God, and the world being His work, who can receive this doctrine? Neither, I think, any one of the Pagans, even if he be an unlearned man, and certainly no one of the philosophers; but not even the rudest and most wretched of the Jews, nor I myself, who am well acquainted with their law.” Then Peter said: “Put aside the opinions of those who are not here, and tell us face to face what is your own.” Then Simon said: “I can state what I really think; but this consideration makes me reluctant to do so, that if I say what is neither acceptable to you, nor seems right to this unskilled rabble, you indeed, as confounded, will straightway shut your ears, that they may not he polluted with blasphemy, forsooth, and will take to flight because yon cannot find an answer; while the unreasoning populace will assent to you, and embrace you as one teaching those things Which are commonly received among them; and will curse me, as professing things new and unheard of, and instilling my error into the minds of others.”
Chap. XXXVIII. — Simon’s Creed.
Then Peter: “Are not you making use of long preambles, as you accused us of doing, because you have no truth to bring forward? or if you have, begin without circumlocution, if you have so much confidence. And if, indeed, what you say be displeasing to any one of the hearers, he will withdraw; and those who remain shall be compelled by your assertion to approve what is true. Begin, therefore, to expound what seemeth to yon to be right.” Then Simon said: “I say that there are many gods; but that there is one incomprehensible and unknown to all, and that He is the God of all these gods.” Then Peter answered: “This God whom you assert to he incomprehensible and unknown to all, can you prove His existence from the Scriptures of the Jews,15 which are held to be of authority, or from some others of which we are all ignorant, 108 or from the Greek authors, or from your own writings? Certainly you are at liberty to speak from whatever writings you please, yet so that you first show that they are prophetic; for so their authority will be held without question.”
Chap. XXXIX. — Argument for Polytheism.
Then Simon said: “I shall make use of assertions from the law of the Jews only. For it is manifest to all who take interest in religion, that this law is of universal authority, yet that every one receives the understanding of this law according to his own judgment. For it has so been written by Him who created the world, that the faith of things is made to depend upon it. Whence, whether any one wishes to bring forward truth, or any one to bring forward falsehood, no assertion will be received without this law. Inasmuch, therefore, as my knowledge is most fully in accordance with the law, I rightly declared that there are many gods, of whom one is more eminent than the rest, and incomprehensible, even He who is God of gods. But that there are many gods, the law itself informs me. For, in the first place, itsaysthisinthepassage where one in the figure of a serpent speaks to Eve, the first woman, ‘On the day ye eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, ye shall be as gods, (Gen_3:5) that is, as those who made man; and after they have tasted of the tree, God Himself testifies, saying to the rest of the gods, ‘Behold, Adam is become as one of us;’ (Gen_3:22) thus, therefore, it is manifest that there were many gods engaged in the making of man. Also, whereas at the first God said to the other gods, ‘Let us make man after our image and likeness;’ (Gen_1:26) also His saying, ‘Let us drive him out;’ (Gen_3:22) and again, ‘Come, let us go down, and confound their language;’ (Gen_11:7) all these things indicate that there are many gods. But this also is written, ‘Thou shalt not curse the gods, nor curse the chief of thy people ;’ (Exo_22:28) and again this writing, ‘God alone led them, and there was no strange god with them,’ (Deu_32:12) shows that there are many gods. There are also many other testimonies which might be adduced from the law, not only obscure, but plain, by which it is taught that there are many gods.16 One of these was chosen by lot, that he might be the god of the Jews. But it is not of him that I speak, but of that God who is also his God, whom even the Jews themselves did not know. For he is not their God, but the God of those who know him.”
Chap. XL. — Peter’s Answer.
When Peter had heard this, he answered: “Fear nothing, Simon: for, behold, we have neither shut our ears, nor fled; but we answer with words of truth to those things which you have spoken falsely, asserting this first, that there is one God, even the God of the Jews, who is the only God, the Creator of heaven and earth, who is also the God of all those whom you call gods. If, then, I shall show you that none is superior to Him, but that He Himself is above all, you will confess that your error is above all.”17 Then Simon said: “Why, indeed, though I should be unwilling to confess it, would not the hearers who stand by charge me with unwillingness to profess the things that are true?”
Chap. XLI. — The Answer, Continued.
“Listen, then,” says Peter, “that you may know, first of all, that even if there are many gods, as you say, they are subject to the God of the Jews, to whom no one is equal, than whom no one can be greater; for it is written that the prophet Moses thus spoke to the Jews: ‘The Lord your God is the God of gods, and the Lord of lords, the great God.’ (Deu_10:17) Thus, although the