Chap. XLVI. — Sun and Moon Ministers Both of Good and Evil.
“But we shall discourse at greater length on these subjects at another time. Now, meantime, weremarkthat though he is that good servant for regulating the changes of the seasons, yet, when chastisement is inflicted upon men according to the will of God, he glows more fiercely, and burns up the world with more vehement fires. In like manner also the course of the moon, and that changing which seems to the unskilful to be disorderly, is adapted to the growth of crops, and cattle, and all living creatures; for by her waxings and wanings, by a certain wonderful contrivance of providence, everything that is born is nourished and grows; concerning which we could speak more at length and unfold the matter in detail, but that the method of the question proposed recalls us. Yet, by the very same appliances by which they are produced, all things are nourished and increased; but when, from any just cause, the regulation of the appointed 178 order is changed, corruption and distemper arise, so that chastisement may come upon men by the will of God, as we have said above.
Chap. XLVII. — Chastisements on the Righteous and the Wicked.
“But perhaps you will say, What of the fact that, in that common chastisement, like things befall the pious and the impious? It is true, and we confess it; but the chastisement turns to the advantage of the pious, that, being afflicted in the present life, they may come more purified to the future, in which perpetual rest is prepared for them, and that at the same time even the impious may somewhat profit from their chastisement, or else that the just sentence of the future judgment may be passed upon them; since in the same chastisements the righteous give thanks to God, while the unrighteous blaspheme. Therefore, since the opinion of things is divided into two parts, that some things are done by order and others against order, it ought, from those things which are done according to order, to be believed that there is a providence; but with respect to those things which are done against order, we should inquire their causes from those who have learned them by prophetic teaching: for those who have become acquainted with prophetic discourse know when, and for what reason, blight, hail, and pestilence, and such like, have occurred in every generation, and for what sins these have been sent as a punishment; whence causes of sadness, lamentations, and griefs have befallen the human race; whence also trembling sickness has ensued, and that this has been from the beginning the punishment of parricide. (Gen_4:13; (Gen_4:13, LXX))
Chap. XLVIII. — Chastisements for Sins.
“For in the beginning of the world there were none of these evils, but they took their: rise from the impiety of men; and thence, with the constant increase of iniquities, the number of evils has also increased. But for this reason divine providence has decreed a judgment with respect to all men, because the present life was not such that every one could be dealt with according to his deservings. Those things, therefore, which were well and orderly appointed from the beginning, when no causes of evil existed, are not to be judged of from the evils which have befallen the world by reason of the sins of men. In short, as an indication of the things which were from the beginning, some nations are found which are strangers to these evils. For the Seres, because they live chastely, are kept free from them all; for with them it is unlawful to come at a woman after she has conceived, or while she is being purified. No one there eats unclean flesh, no one knows aught of sacrifices; all are judges to themselves according to justice. For this reason they are not chastened with those plagues which we have spoken of; they live to extreme old age, and die without sickness. But we, miserable as we are, dwelling as it were with deadly serpents (Eze_2:6) — I mean with wicked men — necessarily suffer with them the plagues of afflictions in this world, but we cherish hope from the comfort of good things to come.”
Chap. XLIX. — God’s Precepts Despised.
“If,” said the old man, “even the righteous are tormented on account of the iniquities of others, God ought, as foreseeing this, to have commanded men not to do those things from which it should be necessary that the righteous be afflicted with the unrighteous; or if they did them, He ought to have applied some correction or purification to the world.”14 “God,” said Aquila, “did so command, and gave precepts by the prophets how men ought to live; but even these precepts they despised: yea, if any desired to observe them, them they afflicted with various injuries, until they drove them from their purposed observance, and turned them to the rabble of infidelity, and made them like unto themselves.
Chap. L. — The Flood.
“Wherefore, in short, at the first, when all the earth had been stained with sins, God brought a I flood upon the world, which you say happened trader Deucalion; and at that time He saved a certain righteous man, with his sons, in an ark, and with him the race of all plants and animals.15 And yet even those who sprang from them, after a time, again did deeds like to those of their predecessors; for those things that had befallen them were forgotten, so that their descendants did not even believe that the flood had taken place. Wherefore God also decreed that there should not be another flood in the present world, else there should have been one in every generation, according to the account of their sins by reason of their unbelief; but He rather granted that certain angels who delight in evil should bear sway over the several nations — and to them was given power over individual men, yet only on this condition, if any one first had made himself subject to them by sinning — until He should come who delights in good, and by Him the number of the righteous should be completed, and by the increase of the number of 179 pious men all over the world impiety should be in some measure repressed, and it should be known to all that all that is good is done by God.
Chap. LI. — Evils Brought in by Sin.
“But by the freedom of the will, every man, while he is unbelieving in regard to things to come, by evil deeds runs into evils. And these are the things in the world which seem to be done contrary to order, which owe their existence to unbelief. Therefore the dispensation of divine providence is withal to be admired, which Ranted to those men in the beginning, walking in the good way of life, to enjoy incorruptible good things; but when they sinned, they gave birth to evil by sin. And to every good thing evil is joined as by a certain covenant of alliance on the part of sin, since indeed the earth has been polluted with human blood, and altars have been lighted to demons, and they have polluted the very air by the filthy smoke of sacrifices; and so at length the elements, being first corrupted, have handed over to men the fault of their corruption, as roots communicatetheirqualities to the branches and the fruit.
Chap. LII. — “No Rose Without Its Thorn.”
“Observe therefore in this, as I have said, how justly divine providence comes to the help of things vitiated; that, inasmuch as evils which had derived their origin from sin were associated with the good things of God, He should assign rive chiefs to these two departments.16 And accordingly, to Him who rejoices in good He has appointed the ordering of good things, that He might bring those who believe inHim to the faith of His providence; but to him who rejoices in evil, He has given over those things which are done without order and uselessly, from which of course the faith of His providence comes into doubt; and thus a just division has been made by a just God. Hence therefore it is, that whereas the orderly course of the stars produces faith that the world was made by the hand of a designer, on the other hand, the disturbance of the air, the pestilent breeze, the uncontrolled fire of the lightning, cast doubt upon the work of providence. For, as we have said, every good thing has its corresponding contrary evil thing joined with it; as hail is opposite to the fertilizing showers, the corruption of mildew is associated with the gentle dew, the whirlwinds of storms are joined with the soft winds, unfruitful trees with fruitful, noxious herbs with useful, wild and destructive animals with gentle ones. But all these things are arranged by God, because that the choice of men’s will has departed from the purpose of good, and fallen away to evil.
Chap. LIII. — Everything Has Its Corresponding Contrary.
“Therefore this division holds in all the things of the world; and as there are pious men, so there are also impious; as there are prophets, so also there are false prophets; and amongst the Gentiles there are philosophers and false philosophers. Also the Arabian nations, and many others, have imitated the circumcision of the Jews for the service of their impiety. So also the worship of demons is contrary to the divine worship, baptism to baptism, laws to the law, false apostles to apostles, and false teachers to teachers. And hence it is that among the philosophers some assert providence, others deny it; some maintain that there is one God, others that there are more than one: in short, the matter has come to this, that whereas demons are expelled by the word of God, by which it is declared that there is a providence, the magical art, for the confirmation of infidelity, has found out ways of imitating this by contraries. Thus has been discovered the method of counteracting the poison of serpents by incantations, and the effecting of cures contrary to the word and power of God. The magic art has also found out ministries contrary to the angels of God, placing the calling up of souls and the figments of demons in opposition to these. And, not to prolong the discourse by a further enumeration, there is nothing whatever that makes for the belief of providence, which has not something, on the other hand, prepared for unbelief; and therefore they who do not know that division of things, think that there is no providence, by reason of those things in the world which are discordant from themselves. But do you, my father, as a wise man, choose from that division the part which preserves order and makes for the belief of providence, and do not only follow that part which runs against order and neutralizes the belief of providence.”
Chap. LIV. — An Illustration.
To this the old man answered: “Show me a way, my son, by which I may establish in my mind one or other of these two orders, the one of which asserts, and the other denies, providence.” “To one having a right judgment,” says Aquila, “the decision is easy. For this very thing that you say, order and disorder, may be produced by a contriver, but not by insensible nature. For let us suppose, by way of illustration, that a great mass were torn from a high rock, and cast down headlong, and when clashed upon the ground were broken into many pieces, 180 could it in any way happen that, amongst that multitude of fragments, there should be found even one which should have any perfect figure and shape?” The old man answered: “It is impossible.” “But,” said Aquila, “if there be present a statuary, he can by his skilful hand and reasonable mind form the stone cut from the mountain into whatever figure he pleases.” The old man said: “That is true.” “Therefore,” says Aquila, “when there is not a rational mind, no figure can be formed out of the mass; but when there is a designing mind, there may be both form and deformity: for example, if a workman cuts from the mountain a block to which he wishes to give a form, he must first cut it out unformed and rough; then, by degrees hammering and hewing it by the rule of his art, he expresses the form which he has conceived in his mind. Thus, therefore, from informity or deformity, by the hand of the workman form is attained, and both proceed from the workman. In like manner, therefore, the things which are done in the world are accomplished by the providence of a contriver, although they may seem not quite orderly. And therefore, because these two ways have been, made known to you, and you have heard the divisions of them, flee from the way of unbelief, lest haply it lead you to that prince who delights in evils; but follow the way of faith, that you may come to that King who delighteth in good men.”
Chap. LV. — The Two Kingdoms.
To this the old man answered: “But why was that prince made who delights in evil?17 And from what was he made? Or was he not made?” Aquila said: “The treatment of that subject belongs to another time; but that you may not go away altogether without an answer to this, I shall give a few hints on this subject also. God, foreseeing all things before the creation of the world, knowing that the men who were to be would some of them indeed incline to good, but others to the opposite, assigned those who should choose the good to His own government and His own cure, and called them His peculiar inheritance; (Deu_32:8, LXX) but He gave over the government of those who should turn to evil to those angels who, not by their substance, but by opposition, were unwilling to remain with God, being corrupted by the vice of envy and pride. Those, therefore, he made worthy princes of worthy subjects; yet he so delivered them over to those angels, that they have not the power of doing what they will against them, unless they transgress the bounds assigned to them from the I beginning. And this is the bound assigned, that unless one first do the will of the demons, the demons have no power over him.”
Chap. LVI. — Origin of Evil.
Then the old man said: “You have stated it excellently, my son. It now remains only that you tell me whence is the substance of evil: for if it was made by God, the evil fruit shows that the root is in fault; for it appears that it also is of an evil nature. But if this substance was co-eternal with God, how can that which was equally unproduced and co-eternal be subject to the other?” “It was not always,” said Aquila; “but neither does it necessarily follow, if it was made by God, that its Creator should be thought to be such as is that which has been made by Him. For indeed God made the substance of all things; but if a reasonable mind, which has been made by God, do not acquiesce in the laws of its Creator, and go beyond the bounds of the temperance prescribed to it, how does this reflect on the Creator? Or if there is any reason higher than this, we do not know it; for we cannot know anything perfectly, and especially concerning those things for our ignorance of which we are not to be judged. But those things for which we are to be judged are most easy to be understood, and are despatched almost in a word. For almost the whole rule of our actions is summed up in this, that what we are unwilling to suffer we should not do to others. For as you would not be killed, you must beware of killing another; and as you would not have your own marriage violated, you must not defile another’s bed; you would not be stolen from, neither must you steal; and every matter of men’s actions is comprehended within this rule.”
Chap. LVII. — The Old Man Unconvinced.
Then the old man: ‘Do not take amiss, my son, what I am going to say. Though your words are powerful, yet they cannot lead me to believe that anything can be done apart from genesis. For I know that all things have happened to me by the necessity of genesis,18 and therefore I cannot be persuaded that either to do well or to do ill is in our power; and if we have not our actions in our power, it cannot be believed that there is a judgment to come, by which either punishments may be inflicted on the evil, or rewards bestowed on the good. In short, since I see that you are initiated in this sort of learning, I shall lay before you a few things from the art itself. “If,” says Aquila, “you wish to add anything from that science, my 181 brother Clement will answer you with all care, since he has attended more fully to the science of mathematics. For I can maintain in other ways that our actions are in our own power; but I ought not to presume upon those things which I have not learned.”
Chap. LVIII — Sitting in Judgment Upon God.
When Aquila had thus spoken, then I Clement said: “To-morrow, my father, you shall speak as you please, and we will gladly hear you; for I suppose it will also be gratifying to you that you have to do with those who are not ignorant of the science which you profess.” When, therefore, it had been settled between the old man and me, that on the following day we should hold a discussion on the subject of genesis — whether all things are done under its influence, or there be anything in us which is not done by genesis, but by the judgment of the mind — Peter rose up, and began to speak to the following effect:19 “To me it is exceedingly wonderful, that things which can easily be found out men make difficult by recondite thoughts and words; and those especially who think themselves wise, and who, wishing to comprehend the will of God, treat God as if He were a man, yea, as if He were something less than a man: for no one can know the purpose or mind of a man unless he himself reveal his thoughts; and neither can any one learn a profession unless he be for a long time instructed by a master. How much more must it be, that no one can know the mind or the work of the invisible and incomprehensible God, unless He Himself send a prophet to declare His purpose, and expound the way of His creation, so far as it is lawful for men to learn it! Hence I think it ridiculous when men judge of the power of God in natural ways, and think that this is possible and that impossible to Him, or this greater and that less, while they are ignorant of everything; who, being unrighteous men, judge the righteous God; unskilled, judge the contriver; corrupt, judge the incorruptible; creatures, judge the Creator.
Chap. LIX. — The True Prophet.
But I would not have you think, that in saying this I take away the power of judging concerning things; but I give counsel that no one walk through devious places, and rush into errors without end. And therefore I advise not only wise men, but indeed all men who have a desire of knowing what is advantageous to them, that they seek after the true Prophet; for it is He alone who knoweth all things, and who knoweth what and how every man is seeking.20 For He is within the mind of every one of us, but in those who have no desire of the knowledge of God and His righteousness, He is inoperative; but He works in those who seek after that which is profitable to their souls, and kindles in them the light of knowledge. Wherefore seek Him first of all; and if you do not find Him, expect not that you shall learn anything from any other. But He is soon found by those who diligently seek Him through love of the truth, and whose souls are not taken possession of by wickedness. For He is present with those who desire Him in the innocency of their spirits, who bear patiently, and draw sighs from the bottom of their hearts through love of the truth; but He deserts malevolent minds, (Wisdom Gen_1:4) because as a prophet He knows the thoughts of every one. And therefore let no one think that he can find Him by his own wisdom, unless, as we have said, he empty his mind of all wickedness, and conceive a pure and faithful desire to know Him. For when any one has so prepared himself, He Himself as a prophet, seeing a mind prepared for Him, of His own accord offers Himself to his knowledge.
Chap. LX. — His Deliverances Not to Be Questioned.
“Therefore, if any one wishes to learn all things, hecannotdoitby discussing them one by one; for, being mortal, he shall not be able to trace the counsel of God, and to scan immensity itself. But if, as we have said, he desires to learn all things, let him seek after the true Prophet; and when he has found Him, let him not treat with Him by questions and disputations and arguments; but if He has given any response, or pronounced any judgment, it cannot be doubted that this is certain. And therefore, before all things, let the true Prophet be sought, and His words be laid hold of. In respect to these this only should be discussed by every one, that he may satisfy himself if they are truly His prophetic words; that is, if they contain undoubted faith of things to come, if they mark out definite times, if they preserve the order of things, if they do not relate as last those things which are first, nor as first those things which were done last, if they contain nothing subtle, nothing composed by magic art to deceive, or if they have not transferred to themselves things which were revealed to others, and have mixed them with falsehoods. And when, all these things having been discussed by 182 right judgment, it is established that they are prophetic words, so they ought to be at once believed concerning all things on which they have spoken and answered.
Chap. LXI. — Ignorance of the Philosophers.
“For let us consider carefully the work of divine providence.21 For whereas the philosophers have introduced certain subtile and difficult words, so that not even the terms that they use in their discourses can be known and understood by all, God has shown that those who thought themselves word-framers are altogether unskilful as respects the knowledge of the truth. For the knowledge of things which is imparted by the true Prophet is simple, and plain, and brief; which those men walking through devious places, and through the stony difficulties of words, are wholly ignorant of. Therefore, to modest and simple minds, when they see things come to pass which have been foretold, it is enough, and more, than enough, that they may receive most certain knowledge from most certain prescience; and for the rest may be at peace, having received evident knowledge of the truth. For all other things are treated by opinion, in which there can be nothing firm. For what speech is there which may not be contradicted? And what argument is there that may not be overthrown by another argument? And hence it is, that by disputation of this sort men can never come to any end of knowledge and learning, but find the end of their life sooner than the end of their questions.
Chap. LXII. — End of the Conference.
“And, therefore, since amongst these philosophers are things uncertain, we must come to the true Prophet. Him God the Father wished to be loved by all, and accordingly He has been pleased wholly to extinguish those opinions which have originated with men, and in regard to which there is nothing like certainty — that He thetrueProphet might be the more sought after, and that He whom22 they had obscured should show to men the way of truth. For on this account also God made the world, and by Him the world is filled; whence also He is everywhere near to them who seek Him, though He be sought in the remotest ends of the earth. But if any one seek Him not purely, nor holily, nor faithfully, He is indeed within him, because He is everywhere, and is found within the minds of all men; but, as we have said before, He is dormant to the unbelieving, and is held to be absent from those by whom His existence is not believed.” And when Peter had said this, and more to the same effect, concerning the true Prophet, he dismissed the crowds; and when he very earnestly entreated the old man to remain with us, he could prevail nothing; but he also departed, to return next day, as had been agreed upon. And after this, we also, with Peter, went to our lodging, and enjoyed our accustomed food and rest.
14 This rendering is according to a marginal reading.
15 [Comp. book iv. 12; Homily VIII. 17. — R.]
16 [Compare with chaps. 52-54 the doctrine of pairs as stated in book iii. 59-61; Homily II 15, etc., iii. 23. — R.]
17 [On the creation of the evil one, see book x. 3, etc., and the discussion with Simon in Homily XIX. 2-18. — R.]
18 [Comp Homily XIV. 3, etc. — R.]
19 [This discourse of Peter is peculiar to the Recognitions; it resembles somewhat the earliest discourse to Clement in book i. — R.]
20 [The introduction of these chapters concerning the true Prophet shows a far more orderly method of constructing the entire discussion with the father than that of the Homilies; comp. book xi. 1, 2. — R.]
21 [Comp. Homily XV. 5. — R.]
22 If we were to read quam instead of quem, the tense would be: that He might lay open to men the way of truth which they had blocked up. So Whiston.