Fathers of the Church
Against Celsus, Books IV-V
by Origen in Circa 250 A.D. | translated by Rev. Frederick Crombie, D.d
HAVING, in the three preceding books, fully stated what occurred to us by way of answer to the treatise of Celsus, we now, reverend Ambrosius, with prayer to God through Christ, offer this fourth book as a reply to what follows. And we pray that words may be given us, as it is written in the book of Jeremiah that the Lord said to the prophet: "Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth as fire. See, I have set thee this day over the nations, and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, and to build and to plant." For we need words now which will root out of every wounded soul the reproaches uttered against the truth by this treatise of Celsus, or which proceed from opinions like his. And we need also thoughts which will pull down all edifices based on false opinions, and especially the edifice raised by Celsus in his work which resembles the building of those who said "Come, let us build us a city, and a tower whose top shall reach to heaven." Yea, we even require a wisdom which will throw down all high things that rise against the knowledge of God, and especially that height of arrogance which Celsus displays against us. And in the next place, as we must not stop with rooting out and pulling down the hindrances which have just been mentioned, but must, in room of what has been rooted out, plant the plants of "God's husbandry;" mad in place of what has been pulled down, rear up the building of God, and the temple of His glory,—we must for that reason pray also to the Lord, who bestowed the gifts named in the book of Jeremiah, that He may grant even to us words adapted both for building up the (temple) of Christ, and for planting the spiritual law, and the prophetic words referring to the same. And above all is it necessary to show, as against the assertions of Celsus which follow those he has already made, that the prophecies regarding Christ are true predictions. For, arraying himself at the same time against both parties— against the Jews on the one hand, who deny that the advent of Christ has taken place, but who expect it as future, and against Christians on the other, who acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ spoken of in prophecy—he makes the following statement:—
"But that certain Christians and (all) Jews should maintain, the former that there has already descended, the latter that there will descend, upon the earth a certain God, or Son of a God, who will make the inhabitants of the earth righteous, is a most shameless assertion, and one the refutation of which does not need many words." Now here he appears to pronounce correctly regarding not "certain" of the Jews, but all of them, that they imagine that there is a certain (God) who will descend upon the earth; and with regard to Christians, that certain of them say that He has already come down. For he means those who prove from the Jewish Scriptures that the advent of Christ has already taken place, and he seems to know that there are certain heretical sects which deny that Christ Jesus was predicted by the prophets. In the preceding pages, however, we have already discussed, to the best of our ability, the question of Christ having been the subject of prophecy, and therefore, to avoid tautology, we do not repeat much that might be advanced upon this head. Observe, now, that if he had wished with a kind of apparent force to subvert faith in the prophetic writings, either with regard to the future or past advent of Christ, he ought to have set forth the prophecies themselves which we Christians and Jews quote in our discussions with each other. For in this way he would have appeared to turn aside those who are carried away by the plausible character of the prophetic statements, as he regards it, from assenting to their truth, and from believing, on account of these prophecies, that Jesus is the Christ; whereas now, being unable to answer the prophecies relating to Christ, or else not knowing at all what are the prophecies relating to Him, he brings forward no prophetic declaration, although there are countless numbers which refer to Christ; but he thinks that he prefers an accusation against the prophetic Scriptures, while he does not even state what he himself would call their "plausible character!" He is not, however, aware that it is not at all the Jews who say that Christ will descend as a God, or the Son of a God, as we have shown in the foregoing pages. And when he asserts that "he is said by us to have already come, but by the Jews that his advent as Messiah is still future," he appears by the very charge to censure our statement as one that is most shameless, and which needs no lengthened refutation.
And he continues: "What is the meaning of such a descent upon the part of God?" not observing that, according to our teaching, the meaning of the descent is pre-eminently to convert what are called in the Gospel the lost "sheep of the house of Israel;" and secondly, to take away from them, on account of their disobedience, what is called the "kingdom of God," and to give to other husbandmen than the ancient Jews, viz. to the Christians, who will render to God the fruits of His kingdom in due season (each action being a "fruit of the kingdom"). We shall therefore, out of a greater number, select a few remarks by way of answer to the question of Celsus, when he says, "What is the meaning of such a descent upon the part of God?" And Celsus here returns to himself an answer which would have been given neither by Jews nor by us, when he asks, "Was it in order to learn what goes on amongst men?" For not one of us asserts that it was in order to learn what goes on amongst men that Christ entered into this life. Immediately after, however, as if some would reply that it was "in order to learn what goes on among men," he makes this objection to his own statement: "Does he not know all things?" Then, as if we were to answer that He does know all things, he raises a new question, saying, "Then he does know, but does not make (men) better, nor is it possible for him by means of his divine power to make (men) better." Now all this on his part is silly talk; for God, by means of His word, which is continually passing from generation to generation into holy souls, and constituting them friends of God and prophets, does improve those who listen to His words; and by the coming of Christ He improves, through the doctrine of Christianity, not those who are unwilling, but those who have chosen the better life, and that which is pleasing to God. I do not know, moreover, what kind of improvement Celsus wished to take place when he raised the objection, asking, "Is it then not possible for him, by means of his divine power, to make (men) better, unless he send some one for that special purpose?" Would he then have the improvement to take place by God's filling the minds of men with new ideas, removing at once the (inherent) wickedness, and implanting virtue (in its stead)? Another person now would inquire whether this was not inconsistent or impossible in the very nature of things; we, however, would say, "Grant it to be so, and let it be possible." Where, then, is our free will? and what credit is there in assenting to the truth? or how is the rejection of what is false praiseworthy? But even if it were once granted that such a course was not only possible, but could be accomplished with propriety (by God), why would not one rather inquire (asking a question like that of Celsus) why it was not possible for God, by means of His divine power, to create men who needed no improvement, but who were of themselves virtuous and perfect, evil being altogether non-existent? These questions may perplex ignorant and foolish individuals, but not him who sees into the nature of things; for if you take away the spontaneity of virtue, you destroy its essence. But it would need an entire treatise to discuss these matters; and on this subject the Greeks have expressed themselves at great length in their works on providence. They truly would not say what Celsus has expressed in words, that "God knows (all things) indeed, but does not make (men) better, nor is able to do so by His divine power." We ourselves have spoken in many parts of our writings on these points to the best of our ability, and the Holy Scriptures have established the same to those who are able to understand them.
The argument which Celsus employs against us and the Jews will be turned against himself thus: My good sir, does the God who is over all things know what takes place among men, or does He not know? Now if you admit the existence of a God and of providence, as your treatise indicates, He must of necessity know. And if He does know, why does He not make (men) better? Is it obligatory, then, on us to defend God's procedure in not making men better, although He knows their state, but not equally binding on you, who do not distinctly show by your treatise that you are an Epicurean, but pretend to recognise a providence, to explain why God, although knowing all that takes place among men, does not make them better, nor by divine power liberate all men from evil? We are not ashamed, however, to say that God is constantly sending (instructors) in order to make men better; for there are to be found amongst men reasons given by God which exhort them to enter on a better life. But there are many diversities amongst those who serve God, and they are few in number who are perfect and pure ambassadors of the truth, and who produce a complete reformation, as did Moses and the prophets. But above all these, great was the reformation effected by Jesus, who desired to heal not only those who lived in one corner of the world, but as far as in Him lay, men in every country, for He came as the Saviour of all men.
The illustrious Celsus, taking occasion I know not from what, next raises an additional objection against us, as if we asserted that "God Himself will come down to men." He imagines also that it follows from this, that "He has left His own abode;" for he does not know the power of God, and that "the Spirit of the Lord filleth the world, and that which upholdeth all things hath knowledge of the voice." Nor is he able to understand the words, "Do I not fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD." Nor does he see that, according to the doctrine of Christianity, we all "in Him live, and move, and have our being," as Paul also taught in his address to the Athenians; and therefore, although the God of the universe should through His own power descend with Jesus into the life of men, and although the Word which was in the beginning with God, which is also God Himself, should come to us, He does not give His place or vacate His own seat, so that one place should be empty of Him, and another which did not formerly contain Him be filled. But the power and divinity of God comes through him whom God chooses, and resides in him in whom it finds a place, not changing its situation, nor leaving its own place empty and filling another: for, in speaking of His quitting one place and occupying another, we do not mean such expressions to be taken logically; but we say that the soul of the bad man, and of him who is overwhelmed in wickedness, is abandoned by God, while we mean that the soul of him who wishes to live virtuously, or of him who is making progress (in a virtuous life), or who is already living conform-ably thereto, is filled with or becomes a partaker of the Divine Spirit. It is not necessary, then, for the descent of Christ, or for the coming of God to men, that He should abandon a greater seat, and that things on earth should be changed, as Celsus imagines when he says, "If you were to change a single one, even the least, of things on earth, all things would be overturned and disappear." And if we must speak of a change in any one by the appearing of the power of God, and by the entrance of the word among men, we shall not be reluctant to speak of changing from a wicked to a virtuous, from a dissolute to a temperate, and from a superstitious to a religious life, the person who has allowed the word of God to find entrance into his soul.
But if you will have us to meet the most ridiculous among the charges of Celsus, listen to him when he says: "Now God, being unknown amongst men, and deeming himself on that account to have less than his due, would desire to make himself known, and to make trial both of those who believe upon him and of those who do not, like those of mankind who have recently come into the possession of riches, and who make a display of their wealth; and thus they testify to an excessive but very mortal ambition on the part of God." We answer, then, that God, not being known by wicked men, would desire to make Himself known, not because He thinks that He meets with less than His due, but because the knowledge of Him will free the possessor from unhappiness. Nay, not even with the desire to try those who do or who do not believe upon Him, does He, by His unspeakable and divine power, Himself take up His abode in certain individuals, or send His Christ; but He does this in order to liberate from all their wretchedness those who do believe upon Him, and who accept His divinity, and that those who do not believe may no longer have this as a ground of excuse, viz., that their unbelief is the consequence of their not having heard the word of instruction. What argument, then, proves that it follows from our views that God, according to our representations, is "like those of mankind who have recently come into the possession of riches, and who make a display of their wealth?" For God makes no display towards us, from a desire that we should understand and consider His pre-eminence; but desiring that the blessedness which results from His being known by us should be implanted in our souls, He brings it to pass through Christ, and His ever-indwelling word, that we come to an intimate fellowship, with Him. No mortal ambition, then, does the Christian doctrine testify as existing on the part of God.
I do not know how it is, that after the foolish remarks which he has made upon the subject which we have just been discussing, he should add the following, that "God does not desire to make himself known for his own sake, but because he wishes to bestow upon us the knowledge of himself for the sake of our salvation, in order that those who accept it may become virtuous and be saved, while those who do not accept may be shown to be wicked and be punished." And yet, after making such a statement, he raises a new objection, saying: "After so long a period of time, then, did God now bethink himself of making men live righteous lives, but neglect to do so before?" To which we answer, that there never was a time when God did not wish to make men live righteous lives; but He continually evinced His care for the improvement of the rational animal, by affording him occasions for the exercise of virtue. For in every generation the wisdom of God, passing into those souls which it ascertains to be holy, converts them into friends and prophets of God. And there may be found in the sacred book (the names of) those who in each generation were holy, and were recipients of the Divine Spirit, and who strove to convert their contemporaries so far as in their power.
And it is not matter of surprise that in certain generations there have existed prophets who, in the reception of divine influence, surpassed, by means of their stronger and more powerful (religious) life, other prophets who were their contemporaries, and others also who lived before and after them. And so it is not at all wonderful that there should also have been a time when something of surpassing excellence took up its abode among the human race, and which was distinguished above all that preceded or even that followed. But there is an element of profound mystery in the account of these things, and one which is incapable of being received by the popular understanding. And in order that these difficulties should be made to disappear, and that the objections raised against the advent of Christ should be answered—viz., that, "after so long a period of time, then, did God now bethink himself of making men live righteous lives, but neglect to do so before?"—it is necessary to touch upon the narrative of the divisions (of the nations), and to make it evident why it was, that "when the Most High divided the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God, and the portion of the LORD was His people Jacob, Israel the cord of His inheritance;" and it will be necessary to state the reason why the birth of each man took place within each particular boundary, under him who obtained the boundary by lot, and how it rightly happened that "the portion of the LORD was His people Jacob, and Israel the cord of His inheritance," and why formerly the portion of the LORD was His people Jacob, and Israel the cord of His inheritance. But with respect to those who come after, it is said to the Saviour by the Father, "Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession." For there are certain connected and related reasons, bearing upon the different treatment of human souls, which are difficult to state and to investigate.
There came, then, although Celsus may not wish to admit it, after the numerous prophets who were the reformers of that well-known Israel, the Christ, the Reformer of the whole world, who did not need to employ against men whips, and chains, and tortures, as was the case under the former economy. For when the sower went forth to sow, the doctrine sufficed to sow the word everywhere. But if there is a time coming which will necessarily circumscribe the duration of the world, by reason of its having had a beginning, and if there is to be an end to the world, and after the end a just judgment of all things, it will be incumbent on him who treats the declarations of the Gospels philosophically, to establish these doctrines by arguments of all kinds, not only derived directly from the sacred Scrip- tares, but also by inferences deducible from them; while the more numerous and simpler class of believers, and those who are unable to comprehend the many varied aspects of the divine wisdom, must entrust themselves to God, and to the Saviour of our race, and be contented with His "ipse dixit," instead of this or any other demonstration whatever.
In the next place, Celsus, as is his custom having neither proved nor established anything, proceeds to say, as if we talked of God in a manner that was neither holy nor pious, that "it is perfectly manifest that they babble about God in a way that is neither holy nor reverential;" and he imagines that we do these things to excite the astonishment of the ignorant, and that we do not speak the truth regarding the necessity of punishments for those who have sinned. And accordingly he likens us to those who "in the Bacchic mysteries introduce phantoms and objects of terror." With respect to the mysteries of Bacchus, whether there is any trustworthy account of them, or none that is such, let the Greeks tell, and let Celsus and his boon-companions listen. But we defend our own procedure, When we say that our object is to reform the human race, either by the threats of punishments which we are persuaded are necessary for the whole world, and which perhaps are not without use s to those who are to endure them; or by the promises made to those who have lived virtuous lives, and in which are contained the statements regarding the blessed termination which is to be found in the kingdom of God, reserved for those who are worthy of becoming His subjects.
After this, being desirous to show that it is nothing either wonderful or new which we state regarding floods or conflagrations, but that, from misunderstanding the accounts of these things which are current among Greeks or barbarous nations, we have accorded our belief to our own Scriptures when treating of them, he writes as follows: "The belief has spread among them, from a misunderstanding of the accounts of these occurrences, that after lengthened cycles of time, and the returns and conjunctions of planets, conflagrations and floods are wont to happen, and because after the last flood, which took place in the time of Deucalion, the lapse of time, agreeably to the vicissitude of all things, requires a conflagration and this made them give utterance to the erroneous opinion that God will descend, bringing fire like a torturer." Now in answer to this we say, that I do not understand how Celsus, who has read a great deal, and who shows that he has perused many histories, had not his attention arrested by the antiquity of Moses, who is related by certain Greek historians to have lived about the time of Inachus the son of Phoroneus, and is acknowledged by the Egyptians to be a man of great antiquity, as well as by those who have studied the history of the Phoenicians. And any one who likes may peruse the two books of Flavius Josephus on the antiquities of the Jews, in order that he may see in what way Moses was more ancient than those who asserted that floods and conflagrations take place in the world after long intervals of time; which statement Celsus alleges the Jews and Christians to have misunderstood, and, not comprehending what was said about a conflagration, to have declared that "God will descend, bringing fire like a torturer."
Whether, then, there are cycles of time, and floods, or conflagrations which occur periodically or not, and whether the Scripture is aware of this, not only in many passages, but especially where Solomon says, "What is the thing which hath been? Even that which shall be. And what is the thing which hath been done? Even that which shall be done," etc., etc., belongs not to the present occasion to discuss. For it is sufficient only to observe, that Moses and certain of the prophets, being men of very great antiquity, did not receive from others the statements relating to the (future) conflagration of the world; but, on the contrary (if we must attend to the matter of time ), others rather misunderstanding them, and not inquiring accurately into their statements, invented the fiction of the same events recurring at certain intervals, and differing neither in their essential nor accidental qualities. But we do not refer either the deluge or the conflagration to cycles and planetary periods; but the cause of them we declare to be the extensive prevalence of wickedness, and its (consequent) removal by a deluge or a conflagration. And if the voices of the prophets say that God "comes down," who has said, "Do I not fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD," the term is used in a figurative sense. For God "comes down" from His own height and greatness when He arranges the affairs of men, and especially those of the wicked. And as custom leads men to say that teachers "condescend" to children, and wise men to those youths who have just be-taken themselves to philosophy, not by "descending" in a bodily manner; so, if God is said anywhere in the holy Scriptures to "come down," it is understood as spoken in conformity with the usage which so employs the word, and, in like manner also with the expression "go Up."
But as it is in mockery that Celsus says we speak of "God coming down like a torturer bearing fire," and thus compels us unseasonably to investigate words of deeper meaning, we shall make a few remarks, sufficient to enable our hearers to form an idea of the defence which disposes of the ridicule of Celsus against us, and then we shall turn to what follows. The divine word says that our God is "a consuming fire," and that "He draws rivers of fire before Him;" nay, that He even entereth in as "a refiner's fire, and as a fuller's herb," to purify His own people. But when He is said to be a "consuming fire," we inquire what are the things which are appropriate to be consumed by God. And we assert that they are wickedness, and the works which result from it, and which, being figuratively called "wood, hay, stubble," God consumes as a fire. The wicked man, accordingly, is said to build up on the previously- laid foundation of reason, "wood, and hay, and stubble." If, then, any one can show that these words were differently understood by the writer, and can prove that the wicked man literally builds up "wood, or hay, or stubble," it is evident that the fire must be understood to be material, and an object of sense. But if, on the contrary, the works of the wicked man are spoken of figuratively under the names of "wood, or hay, or stubble," why does it not at once occur (to inquire) in what sense the word "fire" is to be taken, so that "wood" of such a kind should be consumed? for (the Scripture) says: "The fire will try each man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide. which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work be burned, he shall suffer loss." But what work can be spoken of in these words as being "burned," save all that results from wickedness? Therefore our God is a "consuming fire" in the sense in which we have taken the word; and thus He enters in as a "refiner's fire," to refine the rational nature, which has been filled with the lead of wickedness, and to free it from the other impure materials, which adulterate the natural gold or silver, so to speak, of the soul. And, in like manner, "rivers of fire" are said to be before God, who will thoroughly cleanse away the evil which is intermingled throughout the whole soul. But these remarks are sufficient in answer to the assertion, "that thus they were made to give expression to the erroneous opinion that God will come down bearing fire like a torturer."
But let us look at what Celsus next with great ostentation announces in the following fashion: "And again," he says, "let us resume the subject from the beginning, with a larger array of proofs. And I make no new statement, but say what has been long settled. God is good, and beautiful, and blessed, and that in the best and most beautiful degree. But if he come down among men, he must undergo a change, and a change from good to evil, from virtue to vice, from happiness to misery, and from best to worst. Who, then, would make choice of such a change? It is the nature of a mortal, indeed, to undergo change and remoulding, but of an immortal to remain the same and unaltered. God, then, could not admit of such a change." Now it appears to me that the fitting answer has been returned to these objections, when I have related what is called in Scripture the "condescension" of God to human affairs; for which purpose He did not need to undergo a transformation, as Celsus thinks we assert, nor a change from good to evil, nor from virtue to vice, nor from happiness to misery, nor from best to worst. For, continuing unchangeable in His essence, He condescends to human affairs by the economy of His providence. We show, accordingly, that the holy Scriptures represent God as unchangeable, both by such words as "Thou art the same," and" I change not ;" whereas the gods of Epicurus, being composed of atoms, and, so far as their structure is concerned, capable of dissolution, endeavour to throw off the atoms which contain the elements of destruction. Nay, even the god of the Stoics, as being corporeal, at one time has his whole essence composed of the guiding principle when the conflagration (of the world) takes place; and at another, when a re-arrangement of things occurs, he again becomes partly material. For even the Stoics were unable distinctly to comprehend the natural idea of God, as of a being altogether incorruptible and simple, and uncompounded and indivisible.
And with respect to His having descended among men, He was "previously in the form of God;" and through benevolence, divested Himself (of His glory), that He might be capable of being received by men. But He did not, I imagine, undergo any change from "good to evil," for "He did no sin;" nor from "virtue to vice," for "He knew no sin." Nor did He pass from "happiness to misery," but He humbled Himself, and nevertheless was blessed, even when His humiliation was undergone in order to benefit our race. Nor was there any change in Him from "best to worst," for how can goodness and benevolence be of "the worst?" Is it befitting to say of the physician, who looks on dreadful sights and handles unsightly objects in order to cure the sufferers, that he passes from "good to evil," or from "virtue to vice," or from "happiness to misery?" And yet the physician, in looking on dreadful sights and handling unsightly objects, does not wholly escape the possibility of being involved in the same fate. But He who heals the wounds of our souls, through the word of God that is in Him, is Himself incapable of admitting any wickedness. But if the immortal God—the Word—by assuming a mortal body and a human soul, appears to Celsus to undergo a change and transformation, let him learn that the Word, still remaining essentially the Word, suffers none of those things which are suffered by the body or the soul; but, condescending occasionally to (the weakness of) him who is unable to look upon the splendours and brilliancy of Deity, He becomes as it were flesh, speaking with a literal voice, until he who has received Him in such a form is able, through being elevated in some slight degree by the teaching of the Word, to gaze upon what is, so to speak, His real and pre-eminent appearance.
For there are different appearances, as it were, of the Word, according as He shows Himself to each one of those who come to His doctrine; and this in a manner corresponding to the condition of him who is just becoming a disciple, or of him who has made a little progress, or of him who has advanced further, or of him who has already nearly attained to virtue, or who has even already attained it. And hence it is not the case, as Celsus and those like him would have it, that our God was transformed, and ascending the lofty mountain, showed that His real appearance was something different, and far more excellent than what those who remained below, and were unable to follow Him on high, beheld. For those below did not possess eyes capable of seeing the transformation of the Word into His glorious and more divine condition. But with difficulty were they able to receive Him as He was; so that it might be said of Him by those who were unable to behold His more excellent nature: "We saw Him, and He had no form nor comeliness; but His form was mean, and inferior to that of the sons of men." And let these remarks be an answer to the suppositions of Celsus, who does not understand the changes or transformations of Jesus, as related in the histories, nor His mortal and immortal nature.
But will not those narratives, especially when they are understood in their proper sense, appear far more worthy of respect than the story that Dionysus was deceived by the Titans, and expelled from the throne of Jupiter, and torn in pieces by them, and his remains being afterwards put together again, he returned as it were once more to life, and ascended to heaven? Or are the Greeks at liberty to refer such stories to the doctrine of the soul, and to interpret them figuratively, while the door of a consistent explanation, and one everywhere in accord and harmony with the writings of the Divine Spirit, who had His abode in pure souls, is closed against us? Celsus, then, is altogether ignorant of the purpose of our writings, and it is therefore upon his own acceptation of them that he casts discredit, and not upon their real meaning; whereas, if he had reflected on what is appropriate to a soul which is to enjoy an everlasting life, and on the opinion which we are to form of its essence and principles, he would not so have ridiculed the entrance of the immortal into a mortal body, which took place not according to the metempsychosis of Plato, but agreeably to another and higher view of things. And he would have observed one "descent," distinguished by its great benevolence, undertaken to convert (as the Scripture mystically terms them) the "lost sheep of the house of Israel," which had strayed down from the mountains, and to which the Shepherd is said in certain parables to have gone down, leaving on the mountains those "which had not strayed."
But Celsus, lingering over matters which he does not understand, leads us to be guilty of tautology, as we do not wish even in appearance to leave any one of his objections unexamined. He proceeds, accordingly, as follows: "God either really changes himself, as these assert, into a mortal body, and the impossibility of that has been already declared; Or else he does not undergo a change, but only causes the beholders to imagine so, and thus deceives them, and is guilty of falsehood. Now deceit and falsehood are nothing but evils, and would only be employed as a medicine, either in the case of sick and lunatic friends, with a view to their cure, or in that of enemies when one is taking measures to escape danger. But no sick man or lunatic is a friend of God, nor does God fear any one to such a degree as to shun danger by leading him into error." Now the answer to these statements might have respect partly to the nature of the Divine Word, who is God, and partly to the soul of Jesus. As respects the nature of the Word, in the same way as the quality of the food changes in the nurse into milk with reference to the nature of the child, or is arranged by the physician with a view to the good of his health in the case of a sick man or (is specially) prepared for a stronger man, because he possesses greater vigour, so does God appropriately change, in the case of each individual, the power of the Word to which belongs the natural property of nourishing the human soul. And to one is given, as the Scripture terms it, "the sincere milk of the word;" and to another, who is weaker, as it were, "herbs;" and to another who is full-grown, "strong meat." And the Word does not, I imagine, prove false to His own nature, in contributing nourishment to each one, according as he is capable of receiving Him. Nor does He mislead or prove false. But if one were to take the change as referring to the soul of Jesus after it had entered the body, we would inquire in what sense the term "change" is used. For if it be meant to apply to its essence, such a supposition is inadmissible, not only in relation to the soul of Jesus, but also to the rational soul of any other being. And if it be alleged that it suffers anything from the body when united with it, or from the place to which it has come, then what inconvenience can happen to the Word who, in great benevolence, brought down a Saviour to the human race?—seeing none of those who formerly professed to effect a cure could accomplish so much as that soul showed it could do, by what it performed, even by voluntarily descending to the level of human destinies for the benefit of our race. And the Divine Word, well knowing this, speaks to that effect in many passages of Scripture, although it is sufficient at present to quote one testimony of Paul to the following effect: "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name."
Others, then, may concede to Celsus that God does not undergo a change, but leads the spectators to imagine that He does; whereas we who are persuaded that the advent of Jesus among men was no mere appearance, but a real manifestation, are not affected by this charge of Celsus. We nevertheless will attempt a reply, because you assert, Celsus, do you not, that it is sometimes allowable to employ deceit and falsehood by way, as it were, of medicine? Where, then, is the absurdity, if such a saving result were to be accomplished, that some such events should have taken place? For certain words, when savouring of falsehood, produce upon such characters a corrective effect (like the similar declarations of physicians to their patients), rather than when spoken in the spirit of truth. This, however, must be our defence against other opponents. For there is no absurdity in Him who healed sick friends, healing the dear human race by means of such remedies as He would not employ preferentially, but only according to circumstances. The human race, moreover, when in a state of mental alienation, had to be cured by methods which the Word saw would aid in bringing back those so afflicted to a sound state of mind. But Celsus says also, that "one acts thus towards enemies when taking measures to escape danger. But God does not fear any one, so as to escape danger by leading into error those who conspire against him." Now it is altogether unnecessary and absurd to answer a charge which is advanced by no one against our Saviour. And we have already replied, when answering other charges, to the statement that "no one who is either in a state of sickness or mental alienation is a friend of God." For the answer is, that such arrangements have been made, not for the sake of those who, being already friends, afterwards fell sick or became afflicted with mental disease, but in order that those who were still enemies through sickness of the soul, and alienation of the natural reason, might become the friends of God. For it is distinctly stated that Jesus endured all things on behalf of sinners, that He might free them from sin, and convert them to righteousness.
In the next place, as he represents the Jews accounting in a way peculiar to themselves for their belief that the advent of Christ among them is still in the future, and the Christians as maintaining in their way that the coming of the Son of God into the life of men has already taken place, let us, as far as we can, briefly consider these points. According to Celsus, the Jews say that "(human) life, being filled with all wickedness, needed one sent from God, that the wicked might be punished, and all things purified in a manner analogous to the first deluge which happened." And as the Christians are said to make statements additional to this, it is evident that he alleges that they admit these. Now, where is the absurdity in the coming of one who is, on account of the prevailing flood of wickedness, to purify the world, and to treat every one according to his deserts? For it is not in keeping with the character of God that the diffusion of wickedness should not cease, and all things be renewed. The Greeks, moreover, know of the earth's being purified at certain times by a deluge or a fire, as Plato, too, says somewhere to this effect: "And when the gods overwhelm the earth, purifying it with water, some of them on the mountains," etc., etc. Must it be said, then, that if the Greeks make such assertions, they are to be deemed worthy of respect and consideration, but that if we too maintain certain of these views, which are quoted with approval by the Greeks, they cease to be honourable? And yet they who care to attend to the connection and truth of all our records, will endeavour to establish not only the antiquity of the writers, but the venerable nature of their writings, and the consistency of their several parts.
But I do not understand how he can imagine the overturning of the tower (of Babel) to have happened with a similar object to that of the deluge, which effected a purification of the earth, according to the accounts both of Jews and Christians. For, in order that the narrative contained in Genesis respecting the tower may be held to convey no secret meaning, but, as Celsus supposes, may be taken as true to the letter, the event does not on such a view appear to have taken place for the purpose of purifying the earth; unless, indeed, he imagines that the so-called confusion of tongues is such a purificatory process. But on this point, he who has the opportunity will treat more seasonably when his object is to show not only what is the meaning of the narrative in its historical connection, but what metaphorical meaning may be deduced from it. Seeing that he imagines, however, that Moses, who wrote the account of the tower, and the confusion of tongues, has perverted the story of the sons of Aloeus, and referred it to the tower, we must remark that I do not think any one prior to the time of Homer s has mentioned the sons of Aloeus, while I am persuaded that what is related about the tower has been recorded by Moses as being much older not only than Homer, but even than the invention of letters among the Greeks. Who, then, are the perverters of each other's narratives? Whether do they who relate the story of the Aloadae pervert the history of the time, or he who wrote the account of the tower and the confusion of tongues the story of the Aloadae? Now to impartial hearers Moses appears to be more ancient than Homer. The destruction by fire, moreover, of Sodom and Gomorrah on account of their sins, related by Moses in Genesis, is compared by Celsus to the story of Phaethon,—all these statements of his resulting from one blunder, viz., his not attending to the (greater) antiquity of Moses. For they who relate the story of Phaethon seem to be younger even than Homer, who, again, is much younger than Moses. We do not deny, then, that the purificatory fire and the destruction of the world took place in order that evil might be swept away, and all things be renewed; for we assert that we have learned these things from the sacred books of the prophets. But since, as we have said in the preceding pages, the prophets, in uttering many predictions regarding future events, show that they have spoken the truth concerning many things that are past, and thus give evidence of the indwelling of the Divine Spirit, it is manifest that, with respect to things still future, we should repose faith in them, or rather in the Divine Spirit that is in them.
But, according to Celsus, "the Christians, making certain additional statements to those of the Jews, assert that the Son of God has been already sent on account of the sins of the Jews; and that the Jews hating chastised Jesus, and given him gall to drink, have brought upon themselves the divine wrath." And any one who likes may convict this statement of falsehood, if it be not the case that the whole Jewish nation was overthrown within one single generation after Jesus had undergone these sufferings at their hands. For forty and two years, I think, after the date of the crucifixion of Jesus, did the destruction of Jerusalem take place. Now it has never been recorded, since the Jewish nation began to exist, that they have been expelled for so long a period from their venerable temple-worship and service, and enslaved by more powerful nations; for if at any time they appeared to be abandoned because of their sins, they were notwithstanding visited (by God), and returned to their own country, and recovered their possessions, and performed unhindered the observances of their law. One fact, then, which proves that Jesus was something divine and sacred, is this, that Jews should have suffered on His account now for a lengthened time calamities of such severity. And we say with confidence that they will never be restored to their former condition. For they committed a crime of the most unhallowed kind, in conspiring against the Saviour of the human race in that city where they offered up to God a worship containing the symbols of mighty mysteries. It accordingly behoved that city where Jesus underwent these sufferings to perish utterly, and the Jewish nation to be overthrown, and the invitation to happiness offered them by God to pass to others,—the Christians, I mean, to whom has come the doctrine of a pure and holy worship, and who have obtained new laws, in harmony with the established constitution in all countries; seeing those which were formerly imposed, as on a single nation which was ruled by princes of its own race and of similar manners, could not now be observed in all their entireness.
In the next place, ridiculing after his usual style the race of Jews and Christians, he compares them all "to a flight of bats or to a swarm of ants issuing out of their nest, or to frogs holding council in a marsh, or to worms crawling together in the comer of a dunghill, and quarrelling with one another as to which of them were the greater sinners, and asserting that God shows and announces to us all things beforehand; and that, abandoning the whole world, and the regions of heaven, and this great earth, he becomes a citizen among us alone, and to us alone makes his intimations, and does not cease sending and inquiring, in what way we may be associated with him for ever." And in his fictitious representation, he compares us to " worms which assert that there is a God, and that immediately after him, we who are made by him are altogether like unto God, and that all things have been made subject to us,—earth, and water, and air, and stars,—and that all things exist for our sake, and are ordained to be subject to us." And, according to his representation, the worms—that is, we ourselves—say that "now, since certain amongst us commit sin, God will come or will send his Son to consume the wicked with fire, that the rest of us may have eternal life with him." And to all this he subjoins the remark, that "such wranglings would be more endurable amongst worms and frogs than betwixt Jews and Christians."
In reply to these, we ask of those who accept such aspersions as are scattered against us, Do you regard all men as a collection of bats, or as frogs, or as worms, in consequence of the pre-eminence of God? or do you not include the rest of mankind in this proposed comparison, but on account of their possession of reason, and of the established laws, treat them as men, while you hold cheap Christians and Jews, because their opinions are distasteful to you, and compare them to the animals above mentioned? And whatever answer you may return to our question, we shall reply by endeavouring to show that such assertions are most unbecoming, whether spoken of all men in general, or of us in particular. For, let it be supposed that you say justly that all men, as compared with God, are (rightly) likened to these worthless animals, since their littleness is not at all to be compared with the superiority of God, what then do you mean by littleness? Answer me, good sirs. If you refer to littleness of body, know that superiority and inferiority, if truth is to be judge, are not determined by a bodily standard. For, on such a view, vultures and elephants would be superior to us men; for they are larger, and stronger, and longer-lived than we. But no sensible person would maintain that these irrational creatures are superior to rational beings, merely on account of their bodies: for the possession of reason raises a rational being to a vast superiority over all irrational creatures. Even the race of virtuous and blessed beings would admit this, whether they are, as ye say, good demons, or, as we are accustomed to call them, the angels of God, or any other natures whatever superior to that of man, since the rational faculty within them has been made perfect, and endowed with all virtuous qualities.
But if you depreciate the littleness of man, not on account of his body, but of his soul, regarding it as inferior to that of other rational beings, and especially of those who are virtuous; and inferior, because evil dwells in it,—why should those among Christians who are wicked, and those among the Jews who lead sinful lives, be termed a collection of bats, or ants, or worms, or frogs, rather than those individuals among other nations who are guilty of wickedness?—seeing, in this respect, any individual whatever, especially if carried away by the tide of evil, is, in comparison with the rest of mankind, a bat, and worm, and frog, and ant. And although a man may be an orator like Demosthenes, yet, if stained with wickedness like his, and guilty of deeds proceeding, like his, from a wicked nature; or an Antiphon, who was also considered to be indeed an orator, yet who annihilated the doctrine of providence in his writings, which were entitled Concerning Truth, like that discourse of Celsus,—such individuals are notwithstanding worms, rolling in a comer of the dung-heap of stupidity and ignorance. Indeed, whatever be the nature of the rational faculty, it could not reasonably be compared to a worm, because it possesses capabilities of virtue. For these adumbrations towards virtue do not allow of those who possess the power of acquiring it, and who are incapable of wholly losing its seeds, to be likened to a worm. It appears, therefore, that neither can men in general be deemed worms in comparison with God. For reason, having its beginning in the reason of God, cannot allow of the rational animal being considered wholly alien from Deity. Nor can those among Christians and Jews who are wicked, and who, in truth, are neither Christians nor Jews, be compared, more than other wicked men, to worms rolling in a corner of a dunghill. And if the nature of reason will not permit of such comparisons, it is manifest that we must not calumniate human nature, which has been formed for virtue, even if it should sin through ignorance, nor liken it to animals of the kind described.
But if it is on account of those opinions of the Christians and Jews- which displease Celsus (and which he does not at all appear to understand) that they are to be regarded as worms and ants, and the rest of mankind as different, let us examine the acknowledged opinions of Christians and Jews, and compare them with those of the rest of mankind, and see whether it will not appear to those who have once admitted that certain men are worms and ants, that they are the worms and ants and frogs who have fallen away from sound views of God, and, under a vain appearance of piety, worship either irrational animals, or images, or other objects, the works of men's hands; whereas, from the beauty of such, they ought to admire the Maker of them, and worship Him: while those are indeed men, and more honourable than men (if there be anything that is so), who, in obedience to their reason, are able to ascend from stocks and stones, nay, even from what is reckoned the most precious of all matter—silver and gold; and who ascend up also from the beautiful things in the world to the Maker of all, and entrust themselves to Him who alone is able to satisfy all existing things, and to overlook the thoughts of all, and to hear the prayers of all; who send up their prayers to Him, and do all things as in the presence of Him who beholds everything, and who are careful, as in the presence of the Hearer of all things, to say nothing which might not with propriety be reported to God. Will not such piety as this—which can be overcome neither by labours, nor by the dangers of death, nor by logical plausibilities—be of no avail in preventing those who have obtained it from being any longer compared to worms, even if they had been so represented before their assumption of a piety so remarkable? Will they who subdue that fierce longing for sexual pleasures which has reduced the souls of many to a weak and feeble condition, and who subdue it because they are persuaded that they cannot otherwise have communion with God, unless they ascend to Him through the exercise of temperance, appear to you to be the brothers of worms, and relatives of ants, and to bear a likeness to frogs? What! is the brilliant quality of justice, which keeps inviolate the rights common to our neighbour, and our kindred, and which observes fairness, and benevolence, and goodness, of no avail in saving him who practises it from being termed a bird of the night? And are not they who wallow in dissoluteness, as do the majority of mankind, and they who associate promiscuously with common harlots, and who teach that such practices are not wholly contrary to propriety, worms who roll in mire?—especially when they are compared with those who have been taught not to take the "members of Christ," and the body inhabited by the Word, and make them the "members of a harlot;" and who have already learned that the body of the rational being, as consecrated to the God of all things, is the temple of the God whom they worship, becoming such from the pure conceptions which they entertain of the Creator, and who also, being careful not to corrupt the temple of God by unlawful pleasure; practise temperance as constituting piety towards God!
And I have not yet spoken of the other evils which prevail amongst men, from which even those who have the appearance of philosophers are not speedily freed, for in philosophy there are many pretenders. Nor do I say anything on the point that many such evils are found to exist among those who are neither Jews nor Christians. Of a truth, such evil practices do not at all prevail among Christians, if you properly examine what constitutes a Christian. Or, if any persons of that kind should be discovered, they are at least not to be found among those who frequent the assemblies, and come to the public prayers, without their being excluded from them, unless it should happen, and that rarely, that some one individual of such a character escapes notice in the crowd. We, then, are not worms who assemble together; who take our stand against the Jews on those Scriptures which they believe to be divine, and who show that He who was spoken of in prophecy has come, and that they have been abandoned on account of the greatness of their sins, and that we who have accepted the Word have the highest hopes in God, both because of our faith in Him, and of His ability to receive us into His communion pure from all evil and wickedness of life. If a man, then, should call himself a Jew or a Christian, he would not say without qualification that God had made the whole world, and the vault of heaven for us in particular. But if a man is, as Jesus taught, pure in heart, and meek, and peaceful, and cheerfully submits to dangers for the sake of his religion, such an one might reasonably have confidence in God, and with a full apprehension of the word contained in the prophecies, might say this also: "All these things has God shown beforehand, and announced to us who believe."
But since he has represented those whom he regards as worms, viz., the Christians, as saying that "God, having abandoned the heavenly regions, and despising this great earth, takes up His abode amongst us alone, and to us alone makes His announcements, and ceases not His messages and inquiries as to how we may become His associates for ever," we have to answer that he attributes to us words which we never uttered, seeing we both read and know that GOd loves all existing things, and loathes nothing which He has made, for He would not have created anything in hatred. We have, moreover, read the declaration: "And Thou sparest all things, because they ate Thine, O lover of souls. For Thine incorruptible Spirit is in all. And therefore those also who have fallen away for a little time Thou rebukest, and admonishest, reminding them of their sins." How can we assert that "God, leaving the regions of heaven, and the whole world, and despising this great earth, takes up His abode amongst us only," when we have found that all thoughtful persons must say in their prayers, that "the earth is full of the mercy of the LORD," and that "the mercy of the Lord is upon all flesh;" and that God, being good, "maketh His sun to arise upon the evil and the good, and sendeth His rain upon the just and the unjust;" and that He encourages us to a similar course of action, in order that we may become His sons, and teaches us to extend the benefits which we enjoy, so far as in our power, to all men? For He Himself is said to be the Saviour of all men, especially of them that believe; and His Christ to be the "propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." And this, then, is our answer to the allegations of Celsus. Certain other statements, in keeping with the character of the Jews, might be made by some of that nation, but certainly not by the Christians, who have been taught that "God commendeth His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us;" and although "scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die." But now is Jesus declared to have come for the sake of sinners in all parts of the world (that they may forsake their sin, and entrust themselves to God), being called also, agreeably to an ancient custom of these Scriptures, the "Christ of God."
But Celsus perhaps has misunderstood certain of those whom he has termed "worms," when they affirm that "God exists, and that we are next to Him." And he acts like those who would find fault with an entire sect of philosophers, on account of certain words uttered by some rash youth who, after a three days' attendance upon the lectures of a philosopher, should exalt himself above other people as inferior to himself, and devoid of philosophy. For we know that there are many creatures more honourable than man; and we have read that "God standeth in the congregation of gods," but of gods who are not worshipped by the nations, "for all the gods of the nations are idols." We have read also, that "God, standing in the congregation of the gods, judgeth among the gods." We know, moreover, that "though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many and lords many), but to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him." And we know that in this way the angels are superior to men; so that men, when made perfect, become like the angels. "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but the righteous are as the angels in heaven," and also become "equal to the angels." We know, too, that in the arrangement of the universe there are certain beings termed "thrones," and others "dominions," and others "powers," and others "principalities;" and we see that we men, who are far inferior to these, may entertain the hope that by a virtuous life, and by acting in all things agreeably to reason, we may rise to a likeness with all these. And, lastly, because "it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like God, and shall see Him as He is." And if any one were to maintain what is asserted by some (either by those who possess intelligence or who do not, but have misconceived sound reason), that "God exists, and we are next to Him," I would interpret the word "we," by using in its stead, "We who act according to reason," or rather, "We virtuous, who act according to reason." For, in our opinion, the same virtue belongs to all the blessed, so that the virtue of man and of God is identical. And therefore we are taught to become "perfect," as our Father in heaven is perfect. No good and virtuous man, then, is a "worm rolling in filth," nor is a pious man an "ant," nor a righteous man a "frog;" nor could one whose soul is enlightened with the bright light of truth be reasonably likened to a "bird of the night."
It appears to me that Celsus has also misunderstood this statement, "Let Us make man in Our image and likeness;" and has therefore represented the "worms" as saying that, being created by God, we altogether resemble Him. If, however, he had known the difference between man being created "in the image of God" and "after His likeness," and that God is recorded to have said, "Let Us make man after Our image and likeness," but that He made man "after the image" of God, but not then also "after His likeness," he would not have represented us as saying that "we are altogether like Him." Moreover, we do not assert that the stars are subject to us; since the resurrection which is called the "resurrection of the just," and which is understood by wise men, is compared to the sun, and moon, and stars, by him who said, "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead." Daniel also prophesied long ago regarding these things. Celsus says further, that we assert that "all things have been arranged so as to be subject to us," having perhaps heard some of the intelligent among us speaking to that effect, and perhaps also not understanding the saying, that "he who is the greatest amongst us is the servant of all." And if the Greeks say, "Then sun and moon are the slaves of mortal men," they express approval of the statement, and give an explanation of its meaning; but since such a statement is either not made at all by us, or is expressed in a different way, Celsus here too falsely accuses us. Moreover, we who, according to Celsus, are "worms," are represented by him as saying that, "seeing some among us are guilty of sin, God will come to us, or will send His own Son, that He may consume the wicked, and that we other frogs may enjoy eternal life with Him." Observe how this venerable philosopher, like a low buffoon, turns into ridicule and mockery, and a subject of laughter, the announcement of a divine judgment, and of the punishment of the wicked, and of the reward of the righteous; and subjoins to all this the remark, that "such statements would be more endurable if made by worms and flogs than by Christians and Jews who quarrel with one another!" We shall not, however, imitate his example, nor say similar things regarding those philosophers who profess to know the nature of all things, and who discuss with each other the manner in which all things were created, and how the heaven and earth originated, and all things in them; and how the souls (of men), being either unbegotten, and not created by God, are yet governed by Him, and pass from one body to another; or being formed at the same time with the body, exist for ever or pass away. For instead of treating with respect and accepting the intention of those who have devoted themselves to the investigation of the truth, one might mockingly and revilingly say that such men were "worms," who did not measure themselves by their comer of their dung-heap in human life, and who accordingly gave forth their opinions on matters of such importance as if they understood them, and who strenuously assert that they have obtained a view of those things which cannot be seen without a higher inspiration and a diviner power. "For no man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him: even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." We are not, however, mad, nor do we compare such human wisdom (I use the word "wisdom" in the common acceptation), which busies itself not about the affairs of the multitude, but in the investigation of truth, to the wrigglings of worms or any other such creatures; but in the spirit of truth, we testify of certain Greek philosophers that they knew God, seeing "He manifested Himself to them," although "they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations; and professing themselves to be wise, they became foolish, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things."
After this, wishing to prove that there is no difference between Jews and Christians, and those animals previously enumerated by him, he asserts that the Jews were "fugitives from Egypt, who never performed anything worthy of note, and never were held in any reputation or account." Now, on the point of their not being fugitives, nor Egyptians, but Hebrews who settled in Egypt, we have spoken in the preceding pages. But if he thinks his statement, that "they were never held in any reputation or account," to be proved, because no remarkable event in their history is found recorded by the Greeks, we would answer, that if one will examine their polity from its first beginning, and the arrangement of their laws, he will find that they were men who represented upon earth the shadow of a heavenly life, and that amongst them God is recognised as nothing else, save He who is over all things, and that amongst them no maker of images was permitted to enjoy the rights of citizenship. For neither painter nor image-maker existed in their state, the law expelling all such from it; that there might be no pretext for the construction of images,—an art which attracts the attention of foolish men, and which drags down the eyes of the soul from God to earth. There was, accordingly, amongst them a law to the following effect: "Do not transgress the law, and make to yourselves a graven image, any likeness of male or female; either a likeness of any one of the creatures that are upon the earth, or a likeness of any winged fowl that flieth under the heaven, or a likeness of any creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, or a likeness of any of the fishes which are in the waters under the earth." The law, indeed, wished them to have regard to the truth of each individual thing, and not to form representations of things contrary to reality, feigning the appearance merely of what was really male or really female, or the nature of animals, or of birds, or of creeping things, or of fishes. Venerable, too, and grand was this prohibition of theirs: "Lift not up thine eyes unto heaven, lest, when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and all the host of heaven, thou shouldst be led astray to worship them, and serve them." And what a regime was that under which the whole nation was placed, and which rendered it impossible for any effeminate person to appear in public; and worthy of admiration, too, was the arrangement by which harlots were removed out of the state, those incentives to the passions of the youth! Their courts of justice also were composed of men of the strictest integrity, who, after having for a lengthened period set the example of an unstained life, were entrusted with the duty of presiding over the tribunals, and who, on account of the superhuman purity of their character, were said to be gods, in conformity with an ancient Jewish usage of speech. Here was the spectacle of a whole nation devoted to philosophy; and in order that there might be leisure to listen to their sacred laws, the days termed "Sabbath," and the other festivals which existed among them, were instituted. And why need I speak of the orders of their priests and sacrifices, which contain innumerable indications (of deeper truths) to those who wish to ascertain the signification of things?
But since nothing belonging to human nature is permanent, this polity also must gradually be corrupted and changed. And Providence, having remodelled their venerable system where it needed to be changed, so as to adapt it to men of all countries, gave to believers of all nations, in place of the Jews, the venerable religion of Jesus, who, being adorned not only with understanding, but also with a share of divinity, and having overthrown the doctrine regarding earthly demons, who delight in frankincense, and blood, and in the exhalations of sacrificial odours, and who, like the fabled Titans or Giants, drag down men from thoughts of God; and having Himself disregarded their plots, directed chiefly against the better class of men, enacted laws which ensure happiness to those who live according to them, and who do not flatter the demons by means of sacrifices, but altogether despise them, through help of the word of God, which aids those who look upwards to Him. And as it was the will of God that the doctrine of Jesus should prevail amongst men, the demons could effect nothing, although straining every nerve to accomplish the destruction of Christians; for they stirred up both princes, and senates, and rulers in every place,—nay, even nations themselves, who did not perceive the irrational and wicked procedure of the demons,—against the word, and those who believed in it; yet, notwithstanding, the word of God, which is more powerful than all other things, even when meeting with opposition, deriving from the opposition, as it were, a means of increase, advanced onwards, and won many souls, such being the will of God. And we have offered these remarks by way of a necessary digression. For we wished to answer the assertion of Celsus concerning the Jews, that they were "fugitives from Egypt, and that these men, beloved by God, never accomplished anything worthy of note." And further, in answer to the statement that "they were never held in any reputation or account," we say, that living apart as a "chosen nation and a royal priesthood," and shunning intercourse with the many nations around them, in order that their morals might escape corruption, they enjoyed the protection of the divine power, neither coveting like the most of mankind the acquisition of other kingdoms, nor yet being abandoned so as to become, on account of their smallness, an easy object of attack to others, and thus be altogether destroyed; and this lasted so long as they were worthy of the divine protection. But when it became necessary for them, as a nation wholly given to sin, to be brought back by their sufferings to their God, they were abandoned (by Him), sometimes for a longer, sometimes for a shorter period, until in the time of the Romans, having committed the greatest of sins in putting Jesus to death, they were completely deserted.
Immediately after this, Celsus, assailing the contents of the first book of Moses, which is entitled "Genesis," asserts that "the Jews accordingly endeavoured to derive their origin from the first race of jugglers and deceivers, appealing to the testimony of dark and ambiguous words, whose meaning was veiled in obscurity, and which they misinterpreted s to the unlearned and ignorant, and that, too, when such a point had never been called in question during the long preceding period." Now Celsus appears to me in these words to have expressed very obscurely the meaning which he intended to convey. It is probable, indeed, that his obscurity on this subject is intentional, inasmuch as he saw the strength of the argument which establishes the descent of the Jews from their ancestors; while again, on the other hand, he wished not to appear ignorant that the question regarding the Jews and their descent was one that could not be lightly disposed of. It is certain, however, that the Jews trace their genealogy back to the three fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And the names of these individuals possess such efficacy, when united with the name of God, that not only do those belonging to the nation employ in their prayers to God, and in the exorcising of demons, the words, "God of Abraham, and God of Isaac, and God of Jacob," but so also do almost all those who occupy themselves with incantations and magical rites. For there is found in treatises on magic in many countries such an invocation of God, and assumption of the divine name, as implies a familiar use of it by these men in their dealings with demons. These facts, then—adduced by Jews and Christians to prove the sacred character of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, the fathers of the Jewish race—appear to me not to have been altogether unknown to Celsus, but not to have been distinctly set forth by him, because he was unable to answer the argument which might be founded on them.
For we inquire of all those who employ such invocations of God, saying: Tell us, friends, who was Abraham, and what sort of person was Isaac, and what power did Jacob possess, that the appellation "God," when joined with their name, could effect such wonders? And from whom have you learned, or can you learn, the facts relating to these individuals? And who has occupied himself with writing a history about them, either directly magnifying these men by ascribing to them mysterious powers, or hinting obscurely at their possession of certain great and marvellous qualities, patent to those who are qualified to see them? And when, in answer to our inquiry, no one can show from what history—whether Greek or Barbarian- -or, if not a history, yet at least from what mystical narrative, the accounts of these men are derived, we shall bring forward the book entitled "Genesis," which contains the acts of these men, and the divine oracles addressed to them, and will say, Does not the use by you of the names of these three ancestors of the race, establishing in the clearest manner that effects not to be lightly regarded are produced by the invocation of them, evidence the divinity of the men? And yet we know them from no other source than the sacred books of the Jews! Moreover, the phrases, "the God of Israel," and "the God of the Hebrews," and "the God who drowned in the Red Sea the king of Egypt and the Egyptians," are formuloe frequently employed against demons and certain wicked powers. And we learn the history of the names and their interpretation from those Hebrews, who in their national literature and national tongue dwell with pride upon these things, and explain their meaning. How, then, should the Jews attempt to derive their origin from the first race of those whom Celsus supposed to be jugglers and deceivers, and shamelessly endeavour to trace themselves and their beginning back to these?—whose names, being Hebrew, are an evidence to the Hebrews, who have their sacred books written in the Hebrew language and letters, that their nation is akin to these men. For up to the present time, the Jewish names belonging to the Hebrew language were either taken from their writings, or generally from words the meaning of which was made known by the Hebrew language.
And let any one who peruses the treatise of Celsus observe whether it does not convey some such insinuation as the above, when he says: "And they attempted to derive their origin from the first race of jugglers and deceivers, appealing to the testimony of dark and ambiguous words, whose meaning was veiled in obscurity." For these names are indeed obscure, and not within the comprehension and knowledge of many, though not in our opinion of doubtful meaning, even although assumed by those who are aliens to our religion; but as, according to Celsus, they do not s convey any ambiguity, I am at a loss to know why he has rejected them. And yet, if he had wished honestly to overturn the genealogy which he deemed the Jews to have so shamelessly arrogated, in boasting of Abraham and his descendants (as their progenitors), he ought to have quoted all the passages bearing on the subject; and, in the first place, to have advocated his cause with such arguments as he thought likely to be convincing, and in the next to have bravely refuted, by means of what appeared to him to be the true meaning, and by arguments in its favour, the errors existing on the subject. But neither Celsus nor any one else will be able, by their discussions regarding the nature of names employed for miraculous purposes, to lay down the correct doctrine regarding them, and to demonstrate that those men were to be lightly esteemed whose names merely, not among their countrymen alone, but also amongst foreigners, could accomplish (such results). He ought to have shown, moreover, how we, in misinterpreting the passages in which these names are found, deceive our hearers, as he imagines, while he himself, who boasts that he is not ignorant or unintelligent, gives the true interpretation of them. And he hazarded the assertion, in speaking of those names, from which the Jews deduce their genealogies, that "never, during the long antecedent period, has there been any dispute about these names, but that at the present time the Jews dispute about them with certain others," whom he does not mention. Now, let him who chooses show who these are that dispute with the Jews, and who adduce even probable arguments to show that Jews and Christians do not decide correctly on the points relating to these names, but that there are others who have discussed these questions with the greatest learning and accuracy. But we are well assured that none can establish anything of the sort, it being manifest that these names are derived from the Hebrew language, which is found only among the Jews.
Celsus in the next place, producing from history other than that of the divine record, those passages which bear upon the claims to great antiquity put forth by many nations, as the Athenians, and Egyptians, and Arcadians, and Phrygians, who assert that certain individuals have existed among them who sprang from the earth, and who each adduce proOfs of these assertions, says: "The Jews, then, leading a grovelling life in some comer of Palestine, and being a wholly uneducated people, who had not heard that these matters had been committed to verse long ago by Hesiod and innumerable other inspired men, wove together some most incredible and insipid stories, viz., that a certain man was formed by the hands of God, and had breathed into him the breath of life, and that a woman was taken from his side, and that God issued certain commands, and that a serpent opposed these, and gained a victory over the commandments of God; thus relating certain old wives' fables, and most impiously representing God as weak at the very beginning (of things), and unable to convince even a single human being whom He Himself had formed." By these instances, indeed, this deeply read and learned Celsus, who accuses Jews and Christians of ignorance and want of instruction, clearly evinces the accuracy of his knowledge of the chronology of the respective historians, whether Greek or Barbarian, since he imagines that Hesiod and the "innumerable" others, whom he styles "inspired" men, are older than Moses and his writings—that very Moses who is shown to be much older than the time of the Trojan war! It is not the Jews, then, who have composed incredible and insipid stories regarding the birth of man from the earth, but these "inspired" men of Celsus, Hesiod and his other "innumerable" companions, who, having neither learned nor heard of the far older and most venerable accounts existing in Palestine, have written such histories as their Theogonies, attributing, so far as in their power, "generation" to their deities, and innumerable other absurdities. And these are the writers whom Plato expels from his "State" as being corrupters of the youth,— Homer, viz., and those who have composed poems of a similar description! Now it is evident that Plato did not regard as "inspired" those men who had left behind them such works. But perhaps it was from a desire to cast reproach upon us, that this Epicurean Celsus, who is better able to judge than Plato (if it be the same Celsus who composed two other books against the Christians), called those individuals "inspired" whom he did not in reality regard as such.
He charges us, moreover, with introducing "a man formed by the hands of God," although the book of Genesis has made no mention of the "hands" of God, either when relating the creation or the "fashioning" of the man; white it is Job and David who have used the expression, "Thy hands have made me and fashioned me;" with reference to which it would need a lengthened discourse to point out the sense in which these words were understood by those who used them, both as regards the difference between "making" and "fashioning," and also the "hands" of God. For those who do not understand these and similar expressions in the sacred Scriptures, imagine that we attribute to the God who is over all things a form such as that of man; and according to their conceptions, it follows that we consider the body of God to be furnished with wings, since the Scriptures, literally understood, attribute such appendages to God. The subject before us, however, does not require us to interpret these expressions; for, in our explanatory remarks upon the book of Genesis, these matters have been made, to the best of our ability, a special subject of investigation. Observe next the malignity of Celsus in what follows. For the Scripture, speaking of the "fashioning" of the man, says, "And breathed into his face the breath of life, and the man became a living soul." Whereon Celsus, wishing maliciously to ridicule the "inbreathing into his face of the breath of life," and not understanding the sense in which the expression was employed, states that "they composed a story that a man was fashioned by the hands of God, and was inflated by breath blown into him," in order that, taking the word" inflated" to be used in a similar way to the inflation of skins, he might ridicule the statement, "He breathed into his face the breath of life,"—terms which are used figuratively, and require to be explained in order to show that God communicated to man of His incorruptible Spirit; as it is said, "For Thine incorruptible Spirit is in all things."
In the next place, as it is his object to slander our Scriptures, he ridicules the following statement: "And God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof. And the rib, which He had taken from the man, made He a woman," and so on; without quoting the words, which would give the hearer the impression that they are spoken with a figurative meaning. He would not even have it appear that the words were used allegorically, although he says afterwards, that "the more modest among Jews and Christians are ashamed of these things, and endeavour to give them somehow an allegorical signification." Now we might say to him, Are the statements of your "inspired" Hesiod, which he makes regarding the woman in the form of a myth, to be explained allegorically, in the sense that she was given by Jove to men as an evil thing, and as a retribution for the theft of "the fire;" while that regarding the woman who was taken from the side of the man (after he had been buried in deep slumber), and was formed by God, appears to you to be related without any rational meaning and secret signification? But is it not uncandid, not to ridicule the former as myths, but to admire them as philosophical ideas in a mythical dress, and to treat with contempt the latter, as offending the understanding, and to declare that they are of no account? For if, because of the mere phraseology, we are to find fault with what is intended to have a secret meaning, see whether the following lines of Hesiod, a man, as you say," inspired," are not better fitted to excite laughter:—
"'Son of Iapetus!' with wrathful heart
Spake the cloud-gatherer: 'Oh, unmatched in art!
Exultest thou in this the flame retrieved,
And dost thou triumph in the god deceived?
But thou, with the posterity of man,
Shalt rue the fraud whence mightier ills began;
I will send evil for thy stealthy fire,
While all embrace it, and their bane desire.'
The sire, who rules the earth, and sways the pole,
Had said, and laughter fill'd his secret soul.
He bade the artist-god his best obey,
And mould with tempering waters ductile clay:
Infuse, as breathing life and form began,
The supple vigour, and the voice of man:
Her aspect fair as goddesses above,
A virgin's likeness, with the brows of love.
He bade Minerva teach the skill that dyes
The web with colours, as the shuttle flies;
He called the magic of Love's Queen to shed
A nameless grace around her courteous head;
Instil the wish that longs with restless aim,
And cares of dress that feed upon the frame:
Bade Hermes last implant the craft refined
Of artful manners, and a shameless mind.
He said; their king th' inferior powers obeyed:
The fictile likeness of a bashful maid
Rose from the temper'd earth, by Jove's behest,
Under the forming god; the zone and vest
Were clasp'd and folded by Minerva's hand:
The heaven-born graces, and persuasion bland
Deck'd her round limbs with chains of gold: the hours
Of loose locks twined her temples with spring flowers.
The whole attire Minerva's curious care
Form'd to her shape, and fitted to her air.
But in her breast the herald from above,
Full of the counsels of deep thundering Jove,
Wrought artful manners, wrought perfidious lies,
And speech that thrills the blood, and lulls the wise.
Her did th' interpreter of gods proclaim,
And named the woman with Pandora's name;
Since all the gods conferr'd their gifts, to charm,
For man's inventive race, this beauteous harm."
Moreover, what is said also about the casket is fitted of itself to excite laughter; for example:—
"Whilome on earth the sons of men abode
From ills apart, and labour's irksome load,
And sore diseases, bringing age to man;
Now the sad life of mortals is a span.
The woman's hands a mighty casket bear;
She lifts the lid; she scatters griefs in air:
Alone, beneath the vessel s rims detained,
Hope still within th' unbroken cell remained,
Nor fled abroad; so will'd cloud-gatherer Jove:
The woman's hand had dropp'd the lid above."
Now, to him who would give to these lines a grave allegorical meaning (whether any such meaning be contained in them or not), we would say: Are the Greeks alone at liberty to convey a philosophic meaning in a secret covering? or perhaps also the Egyptians, and those of the Barbarians who pride themselves upon their mysteries and the truth (which is concealed within them); while the Jews alone, with their lawgiver and historians, appear to you the most unintelligent of men? And is this the only nation which has not received a share of divine power, and which yet was so grandly instructed how to rise upwards to the uncreated nature of God, and to gaze on Him alone, and to expect from Him alone (the fulfilment of) their hopes?
But as Celsus makes a jest also of the serpent, as counteracting the injunctions given by God to the man, taking the narrative to be an old wife's fable, and has purposely neither mentioned the paradise of God, nor stated that God is said to have planted it in Eden towards the east, and that there afterwards sprang up from the earth every tree that was beautiful to the sight, and good for food, and the tree of life in the midst of the paradise, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the other statements which follow, which might of themselves lead a candid reader to see that all these things had not inappropriately an allegorical meaning, let us contrast with this the words of Socrates regarding Eros in the Symposium of Plato, and which are put in the mouth of Socrates as being more appropriate than what was said regarding him by all the others at the Symposium. The words of Plato are as follow: "When Aphrodite was born, the gods held a banquet, and there was present, along with the others, Porus the son of Metis. And after they had dined, Penia came to beg for something (seeing there was an entertainment), and she stood at the gate. Porus meantime, having become intoxicated with the nectar (for there was then no wine), went into the garden of Zeus, and, being heavy with liquor, lay down to sleep. Penia accordingly formed a secret plot, with a view of freeing herself from her condition of poverty, to get a child by Porus, and accordingly lay down beside him, and became pregnant with Eros. And on this account Eros has become the follower and attendant of Aphrodite, having been begotten on her birthday feast, and being at the same time by nature a lover of the beautiful, because Aphrodite too is beautiful. Seeing, then, that Eros is the son of Porus and Penia, the following is his condition. In the first place, he is always poor, and far from being delicate and beautiful, as most persons imagine; but is withered, and sunburnt, and unshod, and without a home, sleeping always upon the ground, and without a covering; lying in the open air beside gates, and on public roads; possessing the nature of his mother, and dwelling continually with indigence. But, on the other hand, in conformity with the character of his father, he is given to plotting against the beautiful and the good, being courageous, and hasty, and vehement; a keen hunter, perpet- ually devising contrivances; both much given to forethought, and also fertile in resources; acting like a philosopher throughout the whole of his life; a terrible sorcerer, and dealer in drugs, and a sophist as well; neither immortal by nature nor yet mortal, but on the same day, at one time he flourishes and lives when he has plenty, and again at another time dies, and once more is recalled to life through possessing the nature of his father. But the supplies furnished to him are always gradually disappearing, so that he is never at any time in want, nor yet rich; and, on the other hand, he occupies an intermediate position between wisdom and ignorance." Now, if those who read these words were to imitate the malignity of Celsus—which be it far from Christians to do!—they would ridicule the myth, and would turn this great Plato into a subject of jest; but if, on investigating in a philosophic spirit what is conveyed in the dress of a myth, they should be able to discover the meaning of Plato, (they will admire) the manner in which he was able to conceal, on account of the multitude, in the form of this myth, the great ideas which presented themselves to him, and to speak in a befitting manner to those who know how to ascertain from the myths the true meaning of him who wove them together. Now I have brought forward this myth occurring in the writings of Plato, because of the mention in it of the garden of Zeus, which appears to bear some resemblance to the paradise of God, and of the comparison between Penia and the serpent, and the plot against Porus by Penia, which may be compared with the plot of the serpent against the man. It is not very clear, indeed, whether Plato fell in with these stories by chance, or whether, as some think, meeting during his visit to Egypt with certain individuals who philosophized on the Jewish mysteries, and learning some things from them, he may have preserved a few of their ideas, and thrown others aside, being careful not to offend the Greeks by a complete adoption of all the points of the philosophy of the Jews, who were in bad repute with the multitude, on account of the foreign character of their laws and their peculiar polity. The present, however, is not the proper time for explaining either the myth of Plato, or the story of the serpent and the paradise of God, and all that is related to have taken place in it, as in our exposition of the book of Genesis we have especially occupied ourselves as we best could with these matters.
But as he asserts that "the Mosaic narrative most impiously represents God as in a state of weakness from the very commencement (of things), and as unable to gain over (to obedience) even one single man whom He Himself had formed," we say in answer that the objection is much the same as if one were to find fault with the existence of evil, which God has not been able to prevent even in the case of a single individual, so that one man might be found from the very beginning of things who was born into the world untainted by sin. For as those whose business it is to defend the doctrine of providence do so by means of arguments which are not to be despised, so also the subjects of Adam and his son will be philosophically dealt with by those who are aware that in the Hebrew language Adam signifies man; and that in those parts of the narrative which appear to refer to Adam as an individual, Moses is discoursing upon the nature of man in general. For "in Adam" (as the Scripture says) "all die," and were condemned in the likeness of Adam's transgression, the word of God asserting this not so much of one particular individual as of the whole human race. For in the connected series of statements which appears to apply as to one particular individual, the curse pronounced upon Adam is regarded as common to all (the members of the race), and what was spoken with reference to the woman is spoken of every woman without exception. And the expulsion of the man and woman from paradise, and their being clothed with tunics of skins (which God, because of the transgression of men, made for those who had sinned), contain a certain secret and mystical doctrine (far transcending that of Plato) of the souls losing its wings, and being borne downwards to earth, until it can lay hold of some stable resting-place.
After this he continues as follows: "They speak, in the next place, of a deluge, and of a monstrous ark, having within it all things, and of a dove and a crow as messengers, falsifying and recklessly altering the story of Deucalion; not expecting, I suppose, that these things would come to light, but imagining that they were inventing stories merely for young children." Now in these remarks observe the hostility—so unbecoming a philosopher—displayed by this man towards this very ancient Jewish narrative. For, not being able to say anything against the history of the deluge, and not perceiving what he might have urged against the ark and its dimensions,—viz., that, according to the general opinion, which accepted the statements that it was three hundred cubits in length, and fifty in breadth, and thirty in height, it was impossible to maintain that it contained (all) the animals that were upon the earth, fourteen specimens of every clean and four of every unclean beast,—he merely termed it "monstrous, containing all things within it." Now wherein was its "monstrous" character, seeing it is related to have been a hundred years in building, and to have had the three hundred cubits of its length and the fifty of its breadth contracted, until the thirty cubits of its height terminated in a top one cubit long and one cubit broad? Why should we not rather admire a structure which resembled an extensive city, if its measurements be taken to mean what they are capable of meaning, so that it was nine myriads of cubits long in the base, and two thousand five hundred in breadth? And why should we not admire the design evinced in having it so compactly built, and rendered capable of sustaining a tempest which caused a deluge? For it was not daubed with pitch, or any material of that kind, but was securely coated with bitumen. And is it not a subject of admiration, that by the providential arrangement of God, the elements of all the races were brought into it, that the earth might receive again the seeds of all living things, while God made use of a most righteous man to be the progenitor of those who were to be born after the deluge?
In order to show that he had read the book of Genesis, Celsus rejects the story of the dove, although unable to adduce any reason which might prove it to be a fiction. In the next place, as his habit is, in order to put the narrative in a more ridiculous light, he converts the "raven" into a "crow," and imagines that Moses so wrote, having recklessly altered the accounts related of the Grecian Deucalion; unless perhaps he regards the narrative as not having proceeded from Moses, but from several individuals, as appears from his employing the plural number in the expressions, "falsifying and recklessly altering the story of Deucalion," as well as from the words, "For they did not expect, I suppose, that these things would come to light." But how should they, who gave their Scriptures to the whale nation, not expect that they would come to light, and who predicted, moreover, that this religion should be proclaimed to all nations? Jesus declared, "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof;" and in uttering these words to the Jews, what other meaning did He intend to convey than this, viz., that He Himself should, through his divine power, bring forth into light the whole of the Jewish Scriptures, which contain the mysteries of the kingdom of God? If, then, they peruse the Theogonies of the Greeks, and the stories about the twelve gods, they impart to them an air of dignity, by investing them with an allegorical signification; but when they wish to throw contempt upon our biblical narratives, they assert that they are fables, clumsily invented for infant children!
"Altogether absurd, and out of season," he continues, "is the (account of the) begetting of children," where, although he has mentioned no names, it is evident that he is referring to the history of Abraham and Sarah. Cavilling also at the "conspiracies of the brothers," he allies either to the story of Cain plotting against Abel, or, in addition, to that of Esau against Jacob; and (speaking) of "a father's sorrow," he probably refers to that of Isaac on account of the absence of Jacob, and perhaps also to that of Jacob because of Joseph having been sold into Egypt. And when relating the "crafty procedure of mothers," I suppose he means the conduct of Rebecca, who contrived that the blessing of Isaac should descend, not upon Esau, but upon Jacob. Now if we assert that in all these cases God interposed in a very marked degree, what absurdity do we commit, seeing we are persuaded that He never withdraws His providence from those who devote themselves to Him in an honourable and vigorous life? He ridicules, moreover, the acquisition of property made by Jacob while living with Laban, not understanding to what these words refer: "And those which had no spots were Laban's, and those which were spotted were Jacob's;" and he says that "God presented his sons with asses, and sheep, and camels," and did not see that "all these things happened unto them for ensamples, and were written for our sake, upon whom the ends of the world are come." The varying customs (prevailing among the different nations) becoming famous, are regulated by the word of God, being given as a possession to him who is figuratively termed Jacob. For those who become converts to Christ from among the heathen, are indicated by the history of Laban and Jacob.
And erring widely from the meaning of Scripture, he says that "God gave wells also to the righteous." Now he did not observe that the righteous do not construct cisterns, but dig wells, seeking to discover the inherent ground and source of potable blessings, inasmuch as they receive in a figurative sense the commandment which enjoins, "Drink waters from your own vessels, and from your own wells of fresh water. Let not your water be poured out beyond your own fountain, but let it pass into your own streets. Let it belong to you alone, and let no alien partake with thee." Scripture frequently makes use of the histories of real events, in order to present to view more important truths, which are but obscurely intimated; and of this kind are the narratives relating to the "wells," and to the "marriages," and to the various acts of "sexual intercourse" recorded of righteous persons, respecting which, however, it will be more seasonable to offer an explanation in the exegetical writings referring to those very passages. But that wells were constructed by righteous men in the land of the Philistines, as related in the book of Genesis, is manifest from the wonderful wells which are shown at Ascalon, and which are deserving of mention on account of their structure, so foreign and peculiar compared with that of other wells. Moreover, that both young women and female servants are to be understood metaphorically, is not our doctrine merely, but one which we have received from the beginning from wise men, among whom a certain one said, when exhorting his hearers to investigate the figurative meaning: "Tell me, ye that read the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons; the one by a bond maid, the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bond woman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from l the Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar." And a little after, "But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all." And any one who will take up the Epistle to the Galatians may learn how the passages relating to the "marriages," and the intercourse with "the maid- servants," have been allegorized; the Scripture desiring us to imitate not the literal acts of those who did these things, but (as the apostles of Jesus are accustomed to call them) the spiritual.
And whereas Celsus ought to have recognised the love of truth displayed by the writers of sacred Scripture, who have not concealed even what is to their discredit, and thus been led to accept the other and more marvellous accounts as true, he has done the reverse, and has characterized the story of Lot and his daughters (without examining either its literal or its figurative meaning) as "worse than the crimes of Thyestes." The figurative signification of that passage of history it is not necessary at present to explain, nor what is meant by Sodom, and by the words of the angels to him who was escaping thence, when they said: "Look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the surrounding district; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed;" nor what is intended by Lot and his wife, who became a pillar of salt because she turned back; nor by his daughters intoxicating their father, that they might become mothers by him. But let us in a few words soften down the repulsive features of the history. The nature of actions—good, bad, and indifferent—has been investigated by the Greeks; and the more successful of such investigators lay down the principle that intention alone gives to actions the character of good or bad, and that all things which are done without a purpose are, strictly speaking, indifferent; that when the intention is directed to a becoming end, it is praiseworthy; when the reverse, it is censurable. They have said, accordingly, in the section relating to" things indifferent," that, strictly speaking, for a man to have sexual intercourse with his daughters is a thing indifferent, although such a thing ought not to take place in established communities. And for the sake of hypothesis, in order to show that such an act belongs to the class of things indifferent, they have assumed the case of a wise man being left with an only daughter, the entire human race besides having perished; and they put the question whether the father can fitly have intercourse with his daughter, in order, agreeably to the supposition, to prevent the extermination of mankind. Is this to be accounted sound reasoning among the Greeks, and to be commended by the influential sect of the Stoics; but when young maidens, who had heard of the burning of the world, though without comprehending (its full meaning), saw fire devastating their city and country, and supposing that the only means left of rekindling the flame of human life lay in their father and themselves, should, on such a supposition, conceive the desire that the world should continue, shall their conduct be deemed worse than that of the wise man who, according to the hypothesis of the Stoics, acts becomingly in having intercourse with his daughter in the case already supposed, of all men having been destroyed? I am not unaware, however, that some have taken offence at the desire of Lot's daughters, and have regarded their conduct as very wicked; and have said that two accursed nations—Moab and Ammon—have sprung from that unhallowed intercourse. And yet truly sacred Scripture is nowhere found distinctly approving of their conduct as good, nor yet passing sentence upon it as blameworthy. Nevertheless, whatever be the real state of the case, it admits not only of a figurative meaning, but also of being defended on its own merits.
Celsus, moreover, sneers at the "hatred" of Esau (to which, I suppose, he refers) against Jacob, although he was a man who, according to the Scriptures, is acknowledged to have been wicked; and not clearly stating the story of Simeon and Levi, who sallied out (on the She-chemites) on account of the insult offered to their sister, who had been violated by the son of the Shechemite king, he inveighs against their conduct. And passing on, he speaks of" brothers selling (one another)," alluding to the sons of Jacob; and of "a brother sold," Joseph to wit; and of "a father deceived," viz., Jacob, because he entertained no suspicion of his sons when they showed him Joseph's coat of many colours, but believed their statement, and mourned for his son, who was a slave in Egypt, as if he were dead. And observe in what a spirit of hatred and falsehood Celsus collects together the statements of the sacred history; so that wherever it appeared to him to contain a ground of accusation he produces the passage, but wherever there is any exhibition of virtue worthy of mention-as when Joseph would not gratify the lust of his mistress, refusing alike her allurements and her threats—he does not even mention the circumstance! He should see, indeed, that the conduct of Joseph was far superior to what is related of Bellerophon, since the former chose rather to be shut up in prison than do violence to his virtue. For although he might have offered a just defence against his accuser, he magnanimously remained silent, entrusting his cause to God.
Celsus next, for form's sake, and with great want of precision, speaks of "the dreams of the chief butler and chief baker, and of Pharaoh, and of the explanation of them, in consequence of which Joseph was taken out of prison in order to be entrusted by Pharaoh with the second place in Egypt." What absurdity, then, did the history contain, looked at even in itself, that it should be adduced as matter of accusation by this Celsus, who gave the title of True Discourse to a treatise not containing doctrines, but full of charges against Jews and Christians? He adds: "He who had been sold behaved kindly to his brethren (who had sold him), when they were suffering from hunger, and had been sent with their asses to purchase (provisions);" although he has not related these occurrences (in his treatise). But he does mention the circumstance of Joseph making himself known to his brethren, although I know not with what view, or what absurdity he can point out in such an occurrence; since it is impossible for Momus himself, we might say, to find any reasonable fault with events which, apart from their figurative meaning, present so much that is attractive. He relates, further, that "Joseph, who had been sold as a slave, was restored to liberty, and went up with a solemn procession to his father's funeral," and thinks that the narrative furnishes matter of accusation against us, as he makes the following remark: "By whom (Joseph, namely) the illustrious and divine nation of the Jews, after growing up in Egypt to be a multitude of people, was commanded to sojourn somewhere beyond the limits of the kingdom, and to pasture their flocks in districts of no repute." Now the words, "that they were commanded to pasture their flocks in districts of no repute," are an addition, proceeding from his own feelings of hatred; for he has not shown that Goshen, the district of Egypt, is a place of no repute. The exodus of the people from Egypt he calls a flight, not at all remembering what is written in the book of Exodus regarding the departure of the Hebrews from the land of Egypt. We have enumerated these instances to show that what, literally considered, might appear to furnish ground of accusation, Celsus has not succeeded in proving to be either objectionable or foolish, having utterly failed to establish the evil character, as he regards it, of our Scriptures.
In the next place, as if he had devoted himself solely to the manifestation of his hatred and dislike of the Jewish and Christian doctrine, he says: "The more modest of Jewish and Christian writers give all these things an allegorical meaning;" and, "Because they are ashamed of these things, they take refuge in allegory." Now one might say to him, that if we must admit fables and fictions, whether written with a concealed meaning or with any other object, to be shameful narratives when taken in their literal acceptation, of what histories can this be said more truly than of the Grecian? In these histories, gods who are sons castrate the gods who are their fathers, and gods who are parents devour their own children, and a goddess-mother gives to the "father of gods and men" a stone to swallow instead of his own son, and a father has intercourse with his daughter, and a wife binds her own husband, having as her allies in the work the brother of the fettered god and his own daughter! But why should I enumerate these absurd stories of the Greeks regarding their gods, which are most shameful in themselves, even though invested with an allegorical meaning? (Take the instance) where Chrysippus of Soli, who is considered to be an ornament of the Stoic sect, on account of his numerous and learned treatises, explains a picture at Samos, in which Juno was represented as committing unspeakable abominations with Jupiter. This reverend philosopher says in his treatises, that matter receives the spermatic words of the god, and retains them within herself, in order to ornament the universe. For in the picture at Samos Juno represents matter, and Jupiter god. Now it is on account of these, and of countless other similar fables, that we would not even in word call the God of all things Jupiter, or the sun Apollo, or the moon Diana. But we offer to the Creator a worship which is pure, and speak with religious respect of His noble works of creation, not contaminating even in word the things of God; approving of the language of Plato in the Philebus, who would not admit that pleasure was a goddess, "so great is my reverence, Protarchus," he says, "for the very names of the gods." We verily entertain such reverence for the name of God, and for His noble works of creation, that we would not, even under pretext of an allegorical meaning, admit any fable which might do injury to the young.
If Celsus had read the Scriptures in an impartial spirit, he would not have said that "our writings are incapable of admitting an allegorical meaning." For from the prophetic Scriptures, in which historical events are recorded (not from the historical), it is possible to be convinced that the historical portions also were written with an allegorical purpose, and were most skilfully adapted not only to the multitude of the simpler believers, but also to the few who are able or willing to investigate matters in an intelligent spirit. If, indeed, those writers at the present day who are deemed by Celsus the "more modest of the Jews and Christians" were the (first) allegorical interpreters of our Scriptures, he would have the appearance, perhaps, of making a plausible allegation. But since the very fathers and authors of the doctrines themselves give them an allegorical signification, what other inference can be drawn than that they were composed so as to be allegorically understood in their chief signification? And we shall adduce a few instances out of very many to show that Celsus brings an empty charge against the Scriptures, when he says "that they are incapable of admitting an allegorical meaning." Paul, the apostle of Jesus, says: "It is written in the law, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? or saith He it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he that plougheth should plough in hope, and he that thresheth in hope of partaking." And in another passage the same Paul says: "For it is written, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church." And again, in another place: "We know that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud, and in the sea." Then, explaining the history relating to the manna, and that referring to the miraculous issue of the water from the rock, he continues as follows: "And they did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ." Asaph, moreover, who, in showing the histories in Exodus and Numbers to be full of difficulties and parables, begins in the following manner, as recorded in the book of Psalms, where he is about to make mention of these things: "Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us."
Moreover, if the law of Moses had contained nothing which was to be understood as hating a secret meaning, the prophet would not have said in his prayer to God, "Open Thou mine eyes, and I will behold wondrous things out of Thy law;" whereas he knew that there was a veil of ignorance lying upon the heart of those who read but do not understand the figurative meaning, which veil is taken away by the gift of God, when He hears him who has done all that he can, and who by reason of habit has his senses exercised to distinguish between good and evil, and who continually utters the prayer, "Open Thou mine eyes, and I will behold wondrous things out of Thy law." And who is there that, on reading of the dragon that lives in the Egyptian river, and of the fishes which lurk in his scales, or of the excrement of Pharaoh which fills the mountains of Egypt, is not led at once to inquire who he is that fills the Egyptian mountains with his stinking excrement, and what the Egyptian mountains are; and what the rivers in Egypt are, of which the aforesaid Pharaoh boastfully says, "The rivers are mine, and I have made them;" and who the dragon is, and the fishes in its scales,—and this so as to harmonize with the interpretation to be given of the rivers? But why establish at greater length what needs no demonstration? For to these things applies the saying: "Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? or who is prudent, and he shall know them?" Now I have gone at some length into the subject, because I wished to show the unsoundness of the assertion of Celsus, that "the more modest among the Jews and Christians endeavour somehow to give these stories an allegorical signification, although some of them do not admit of this, but on the contrary are exceedingly silly inventions." Much rather are the stories of the Greeks not only very silly, but very impious inventions. For our narratives keep expressly in view the multitude of simpler believers, which was not done by those who invented the Grecian fables. And therefore not without propriety does Plato expel from his state all fables and poems of such a nature as those of which we have been speaking.
Celsus appears to me to have heard that there are treatises in existence which contain allegorical explanations of the law of Moses. These however, he could not have read; for if he had he would not have said: "The allegorical explanations, however, which have been devised are much more shameful and absurd than the fables themselves, inasmuch as they endeavour to unite with marvellous and altogether insensate folly things which cannot at all be made to harmonize." He seems to refer in these words to the works of Philo, or to those of still older writers, such as Aristobulus. But I conjecture that Celsus has not read their books, since it appears to me that in many passages they have so successfully hit the meaning (of the sacred writers), that even Grecian philosophers would have been captivated by their explanations; for in their writings we find not only a polished style, but exquisite thoughts and doctrines, and a rational use of what Celsus imagines to be fables in the sacred writings. I know, moreover, that Numenius the Pythagorean—a surpassingly excellent expounder of Plato, and who held a foremost place as a teacher of the doctrines of Pythagoras—in many of his works quotes from the writings of Moses and the prophets, and applies to the passages in question a not improbable allegorical meaning, as in his work called Epops, and in those which treat of "Numbers" and of "Place." And in the third book of his dissertation on The Good, he quotes also a narrative regarding Jesus—without, however, mentioning His name— and gives it an allegorical signification, whether successfully or the reverse I may state on another occasion. He relates also the account respecting Moses, and Jannes, and Jambres. But we are not elated on account of this instance, though we express our approval of Numenius, rather than of Celsus and other Greeks, because he was willing to investigate our histories from a desire to acquire knowledge, and was (duly) affected by them as narratives which were to be allegorically understood, and which did not belong to the category of foolish compositions.
After this, selecting from all the treatises which contain allegorical explanations and interpretations, expressed in a language and style not to be despised, the least important, such as might contribute, indeed, to strengthen the faith of the multitude of simple believers, but were not adapted to impress those of more intelligent mind, he continues: "Of such a nature do I know the work to be, entitled Controversy between one Papiscus and Jason, which is fitted to excite pity and hatred instead of laughter. It is not my purpose, however, to confute the statements contained in such works; for their fallacy is manifest to all, especially if any one will have the patience to read the books themselves. Rather do I wish to show that Nature teaches this, that God made nothing that is mortal, but that His works, whatever they are, are immortal, and theirs mortal. And the soul is the work of God, while the nature of the body is different. And in this respect there is no difference between the body of a bat, or of a worm, or of a frog, and that of a man; for the matter is the same, and their corruptible part is alike." Nevertheless I could wish that every one who heard Celsus declaiming and asserting that the treatise entitled Controversy between Jason and Papiscus regarding Christ was fitted to excite not laughter, but hatred, could fake the work into his hands, and patiently listen to its contents; that, finding in it nothing to excite hatred, he might condemn Celsus out of the book itself. For if it be impartially perused, it will be found that there is nothing to excite even laughter in a work in which a Christian is described as conversing with a Jew on the subject of the Jewish Scriptures, and proving that the predictions regarding Christ fitly apply to Jesus; although the other disputant maintains the discussion in no ignoble style, and in a manner not unbecoming the character of a Jew.
I do not know, indeed, how he could conjoin things that do not admit of union, and which cannot exist together at the same time in human nature, in saying, as he did, that "the above treatise deserved to be treated both with pity and hatred." For every one will admit that he who is the object of pity is not at the same moment an object of hatred, and that he who is the object of hatred is not at the same time a subject of pity. Celsus, moreover, says that it was not his purpose to refute such statements, because he thinks that their absurdity is evident to all, and that, even before offering any logical refutation, they will appear to be bad, and to merit both pity and hatred. But we invite him who peruses this reply of ours to the charges of Celsus to have patience, and to listen to our sacred writings themselves, and, as far as possible, to form an opinion from their contents of the purpose of the writers, and of their consciences and disposition of mind; for he will discover that they are men who strenuously contend for what they uphold, and that some of them show that the history which they narrate is one which they have both seen and experienced, which was miraculous, and worthy of being recorded for the advantage of their future hearers. Will any one indeed venture to say that it is not the source and fountain of all blessing (to men) to believe in the God of all things, and to perform all our actions with the view of pleasing Him in everything whatever, and not to entertain even a thought unpleasing to Him, seeing that not only our words and deeds, but our very thoughts, will be the subject of future judgment? And what other arguments would more effectually lead human nature to adopt a virtuous life, than the belief or opinion that the supreme God beholds all things, not only what is said and done, but even what is thought by us? And let any one who likes compare any other system which at the same time converts and ameliorates, not merely one or two individuals, but, as far as in it lies, countless numbers, that by the comparison of both methods he may form a correct idea of the arguments which dispose to a virtuous life.
But as in the words which I quoted from Celsus, which are a paraphrase from the Timoeus, certain expressions occur, such as, "God made nothing mortal, but immortal things alone, while mortal things are the works of others, and the soul is a work of God, but the nature of the body is different, and there is no difference between the body of a man and that of a bat, or of a worm, or of a frog; for the matter is the same, and their corruptible part alike,"—let us discuss these points for a little; and let us show that Celsus either does not disclose his Epicurean opinions, or, as might be said by one person, has exchanged them for better, or, as another might say, has nothing in common save the name, with Celsus, the Epicurean. For he ought, in giving expression to such opinions, and in proposing to contradict not only us, but the by no means obscure sect of philosophers who are the adherents of Zeno of Citium, to have proved that the bodies of animals are not the work of God, and that the great skill displayed in their construction did not proceed from the highest intelligence. And he ought also, with regard to the countless diversities of plants, which are regulated by an inherent, incomprehensible nature, and which have been created for the by no means despicable use of man in general, and of the animals which minister to man, whatever other reasons may be adduced for their existence, not only to have stated his opinion, but also to have shown us that it was no perfect intelligence which impressed these qualities upon the matter of plants. And when he had once represented (various) divinities as the creators of all the bodies, the soul alone being the work of God, why did not he, who separated these great acts of creation, and apportioned them among a plurality of creators, next demonstrate by some convincing reason the existence of these diversities among divinities, some of which construct the bodies of men, and others— those, say, of beasts of burden, and others—those of wild animals? And he who saw that some divinities were the creators of dragons, and of asps, and of basilisks, and others of each plant and herb according to its species, ought to have explained the causes of these diversities. For probably, had he given himself carefully to the investigation of each particular point, he would either have observed that it was one God who was the creator of all, and who made each thing with a certain object and for a certain reason; or if he had failed to observe this, he would have discovered the answer which he ought to return to those who assert that corruptibility is a thing indifferent in its nature; and that there was no absurdity in a world which consists of diverse materials, being formed by one architect, who constructed the different kinds of things so as to secure the good of the whole. Or, finally, he ought to have expressed no opinion at all on so important a doctrine, since he did not intend to prove what he professed to demonstrate; unless, indeed, he who censures others for professing a simple faith, would have us to believe his mere assertions, although he gave out that he would not merely assert, but would prove his assertions.
But I maintain that, if he had the patience (to use his own expression) to listen to the writings of Moses and the prophets, he would have had his attention arrested by the circumstance that the expression "God made" is applied to heaven and earth, and to what is called the firmament, and also to the lights and stars; and after these, to the great fishes, and to every living thing among creeping animals which the waters brought forth after their kinds, and to every fowl of heaven after its kind; and after these, to the wild beasts of the earth after their kind, and the beasts after their kind, and to every creeping thing upon the earth after its kind; and last of all to man. The expression "made," however, is not applied to other things; but it is deemed sufficient to say regarding light, "And it was light;" and regarding the one gathering together of all the waters that are under the whole heaven, "It was so." And in like manner also, with regard to what grew upon the earth, where it is said, "The earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after its kind and after its likeness, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit, whose seed is in itself, after its kind, upon the earth." He would have inquired, moreover, whether the recorded commands of God respecting the coming into existence of each part of the world were addressed to one thing or to several; and he would not lightly have charged with being unintelligible, and as having no secret meaning, the accounts related in these books, either by Moses, or, as we would say, by the Divine Spirit speaking in Moses, from whom also he derived the power of prophesying; since he "knew both the present, and the future, and the past," in a higher degree than those priests who are alleged by the poets to have possessed a knowledge of these things.
Moreover, since Celsus asserts that "the soul is the work of God, but that the nature of body is different; and that in this respect there is no difference between the body of a bat, or of a worm, or of a frog, and that of a man, for the matter is the same, and their corruptible part alike,"— we have to say in answer to this argument of his, that if, since the same matter underlies the body of a bat, or of a worm, or of a frog, or of a man, these bodies will differ in no respect from one another, it is evident then that these bodies also will differ in no respect from the sun, or the moon, or the stars, or the sky, or any other thing which is called by the Greeks a god, cognisable by the senses. For the same matter, underlying all bodies, is, properly speaking, without qualities and without form, and derives its qualities from some (other) source, I know not whence, since Celsus will have it that nothing corruptible can be the work of God. Now the corruptible part of everything whatever, being produced from the same underlying matter, must necessarily be the same, by Celsus' own showing; unless, indeed, finding himself here hard pressed, he should desert Plato, who makes the soul arise from a certain bowl, and take refuge with Aristotle and the Peripatetics, who maintain that the ether is immaterial, and consists of a fifth nature, separate from the other four elements, against which view both the Platonists and the Stoics have nobly protested. And we too, who are despised by Celsus, will contravene it, seeing we are required to explain and maintain the following statement of the prophet: The heavens shall perish, but Thou remainest: and they all shall wax old as a garment; and as a vesture shall Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but Thou art the same." These remarks, however, are sufficient in reply to Celsus, when he asserts that "the soul is the work of God, but that the nature of body is different;" for from his argument it follows that there is no difference between the body of a bat, or of a worm, or of a frog, and that of a heavenly being.
See, then, whether we ought to yield to one who, holding such opinions, calumniates the Christians, and thus abandon a doctrine which explains the difference existing among bodies as due to the different qualities, internal and external, which are implanted in them. For we, too, know that there are "bodies celestial, and bodies terrestrial;" and that "the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial another;" and that even the glory of the celestial bodies is not alike: for "one is the glory of the sun, and another the glory of the stars;" and among the stars themselves, "one star differeth from another star in glory." And therefore, as those who expect the resurrection of the dead, we assert that the qualities which are in bodies undergo change: since some bodies, which are sown in corruption, are raised in incorruption; and others, sown in dishonour, are raised in glory; and others, again, sown in weakness, are raised in power; and those which are sown natural bodies, are raised as spiritual. That the matter which underlies bodies is capable of receiving those qualities which the Creator pleases to bestow, is a point which all of us who accept the doctrine of providence firmly hold; so that, if God so willed, one quality is at the present time implanted in this portion of matter, and afterwards another of a different and better kind. But since there are, from the beginning of the world, laws established for the purpose of regulating the changes of bodies, and which will continue while the world lasts, I do not know whether, when a new and different order of things has succeeded after the destruction of the world, and what our Scriptures call the end (of the ages), it is not wonderful that at the present time a snake should be formed out of a dead man, growing, as the multitude affirm, out of the marrow of the back, and that a bee should spring from an ox, and a wasp from a horse, and a beetle from an ass, and, generally, worms from the most of bodies, Celsus, indeed, thinks that this can be shown to be the consequence of none of these bodies being the work of God, and that qualities (I know not whence it was so arranged that one should spring out of another) are not the work of a divine intelligence, producing the changes which occur in the qualities of matter.
But we have something more to say to Celsus, when he declares that "the soul is the work of God, and that the nature of body is different," and puts forward such an opinion not only without proof, but even without clearly defining his meaning; for he did not make it evident whether he meant that every soul is the work of God, or only the rational soul. This, then, is what we have to say: If every soul is the work of God, it is manifest that those of the meanest irrational animals are God's work, so that the nature of all bodies is different from that of the soul. He appears, however, in what follows, where he says that "irrational animals are more beloved by God than we, and have a purer knowledge of divinity," to maintain that not only is the soul of man, but in a much greater degree that of irrational animals, the work of God; for this follows from their being said to be more beloved by God than we. Now if the rational soul alone be the work of God, then, in the first place, he did not clearly indicate that such was his opinion; and in the second place, this deduction follows from his indefinite language regarding the soul—viz., whether not every one, but only the rational, is the work of God—that neither is the nature of all bodies different (from the soul). But if the nature of all bodies be not different, although the body of each animal correspond to its soul, it is evident that the body of that animal whose soul was the work of God, would differ from the body of that animal in which dwells a soul which was not the work of God. And so the assertion will be false, that there is no difference between the body of a bat, or of a worm, or of a frog, and that of a man.
For it would, indeed, be absurd that certain stones and buildings should be regarded as more sacred or more profane than others, according as they were constructed for the honour of God, or for the reception of dishonourable and accursed persons; while bodies should not differ from bodies, according as they are inhabited by rational or irrational beings, and according as these rational beings are the most virtuous or most worthless of mankind. Such a principle of distinction, indeed, has led some to deify the bodies of distinguished men, as having received a virtuous soul, and to reject and treat with dishonour those of very wicked individuals. I do not maintain that such a principle has been always soundly exercised, but that it had its origin in a correct idea. Would a wise man, indeed, after the death of Anytus and Socrates, think of burying the bodies of both with like honours? And would he raise the same mound or tomb to the memory of both? These instances we have adduced because of the language of Celsus, that "none of these is the work of God" (where the words "of these" refer to the body of a man or to the snakes which come out of the body and to that of an ox, or of the bees which come from the body of an ox; and to that of a horse or of an ass, and to the wasps which come from a horse, and the beetles which proceed from an ass); for which reason we have been obliged to return to the consideration of his statement, that "the soul is the work of God, but that the nature of body is different."
He next proceeds to say, that "a common nature pervades all the previously mentioned bodies, and one which goes and returns the same amid recurring changes." In answer to this it is evident from what has been already said that not only does a common nature pervade those bodies which have been previously enumerated, but the heavenly bodies as well. And if this is the case, it is clear also that, according to Celsus (although I do not know whether it is according to truth), it is one nature which goes and returns the same through all bodies amid recurring changes. It is evident also that this is the case in the opinion of those who hold that the world is to perish; while those also who hold the opposite view will endeavour to show, with out the assumption of a fifth substance, that in their judgment too it is one nature "which goes and returns the same through all bodies amid recurring changes." And thus, even that which is perishable remains in order to undergo a change; for the matter which underlies (all things), while its properties perish, stir abides according to the opinion of those who hold it to be uncreated. If, however, it can be shown by any arguments not to be uncreated, but to have been created for certain purposes, it is clear that it will not have the same nature of permanency which it would possess on the hypothesis of being uncreated. But it is not our object at present, in answering the charges of Celsus, to discuss these questions of natural philosophy.
He maintains, moreover, that "no product of matter is immortal." Now, in answer to this it may be said, that if no product of matter is immortal, then either the whole world is immortal, and thus not a product of matter, or it is not immortal. If, accordingly, the world is immortal (which is agreeable to the view of those who say that the soul alone is the work of God, and was produced from a certain bowl), let Celsus show that the world was not produced from a matter devoid of qualities, remembering his own assertion that "no product of matter is immortal." If, however, the world is not immortal (seeing it is a product of matter), but mortal, does it also perish, or does it not? For if it perish, it will perish as being a work of God; and then, in the event of the world perishing, what will become of the saul, which is also a work of God? Let Celsus answer this! But if, perverting the notion of immortality, he will assert that, although perishable, it is immortal, because it does not really perish; that it is capable of dying, but does not actually die,—it is evident that, according to him, there will exist something which is at the same time mortal and immortal, by being capable of both conditions; and that which does not die will be mortal, and that which is not immortal by nature will be termed in a peculiar sense immortal, because it does not die! According to what distinction, then, in the meaning of words, will he maintain that no product of matter is immortal? And thus you see that the ideas contained in his writings, when closely examined and tested, are proved not to be sound and incontrovertible. And after making these assertions he adds: "On this point these remarks are sufficient; and if any one is capable of hearing and examining further, he will come to know (the truth)." Let us, then, who in his opinion are unintelligent individuals, see what will result from our being able to listen to him for a little, and so continue our investigation.
After these matters, then, he thinks that he can make us acquainted in a few words with the questions regarding the nature of evil, which have been variously discussed in many important treatises, and which have received very opposite explanations. His words are: "There neither were formerly, nor are there now, nor will there be again, more or fewer evils in the world (than have always been). For the nature of all things is one and the same, and the generation of evils is always the same." He seems to have paraphrased these words from the discussions in the Theoetetus, where Plato makes Socrates say: "It is neither possible for evils to disappear from among men, nor for them to become established among the gods," and so on. But he appears to me not to have understood Plato correctly, although professing to include all truth in this one treatise, and giving to his own book against us the title of A True Discourse. For the language in the Timoeus, where it is said, "When the gods purify the earth with water," shows that the earth, when purified with water, contains less evil than it did before its purification. And this assertion, that there at one time were fewer evils in the world, is one which we make, in harmony with the opinion of Plato, because of the language in the Theoetetus, where he says that "evils cannot disappear from among men."
I do not understand how Celsus, while admitting the existence of Providence, at least so far as appears from the language of this book, can say that there never existed (at any time) either more or fewer evils, but, as it were, a fixed number; thus annihilating the beautiful doctrine regarding the indefinite s nature of evil, and asserting that evil, even in its own nature, is infinite. Now it appears to follow from the position, that there never have been, nor are now, nor ever will be, more or fewer evils in the world; that as, according to the view of those who hold the indestructibility of the world, the equipoise of the elements is maintained by a Providence (which does not permit one to gain the preponderance over the others, in order to prevent the destruction of the world), so a kind of Providence presides, as it were, over evils (the number of which is fixed), to prevent their being either increased or diminished! In other ways, too, are the arguments of Celsus concerning evil confuted, by those philosophers who have investigated the subjects of good and evil, and who have proved also from history that in former times it was without the city, and with their faces concealed by masks, that loose women hired themselves to those who wanted them; that subsequently, becoming more impudent, they laid aside their masks, though not being permitted by the laws to enter the cities, they (still) remained without them, until, as the dissoluteness of manners daily increased, they dared even to enter the cities. Such accounts are given by Chrysippus in the introduction to his work on Good and Evil. From this also it may be seen that evils both increase and decrease, viz., that those individuals who were called "Ambiguous" used formerly to present themselves openly to view, suffering and committing all shameful things, while subserving the passions of those who frequented their society; but recently they have been expelled by the authorities. And of countless evils which, owing to the spread of wickedness, have made their appearance in human life, we may say that formerly they did not exist. For the most ancient histories, which bring innumerable other accusations against sinful men, know nothing of the perpetrators of abominable crimes.
And now, after these arguments, and others of a similar kind, how can Celsus escape appearing in a ridiculous light, when he imagines that there never has been in the past, nor will be in the future, a greater or less number of evils? For although the nature of all things is one and the same, it does not at all follow that the production of evils is a constant quantity. For although the nature of a certain individual is one and the same, yet his mind, and his reason, and his actions, are not always alike: there being a time when he had not yet attained to reason; and another, when, with the possession of reason, he had become stained with wickedness, and when this increased to a greater or less degree; and again, a time when he devoted himself to virtue, and made greater or less progress therein, attaining sometimes the very summit of perfection, through longer or shorter periods of contemplation. In like manner, we may make the same assertion in a higher degree of the nature of the universe, that although it is one and the same in kind, yet neither do exactly the same things, nor yet things that are similar, occur in it; for we neither have invariably productive nor unproductive seasons, nor yet periods of continuous rain or of drought. And so in the same way, with regard to virtuous souls, there are neither appointed periods of fertility nor of barrenness; and the same is the case with the greater or less spread of evil. And those who desire to investigate all things to the best of their ability, must keep in view this estimate of evils, that their amount is not always the same, owing to the working of a Providence which either preserves earthly things, or purges them by means of floods and conflagrations; and effects this, perhaps, not merely with reference to things on earth, but also to the whole universe of things s I which stands in need of purification, when the wickedness that is in it has become great.
After this Celsus continues: "It is not easy, indeed, for one who is not a philosopher to ascertain the origin of evils, though it is sufficient for the multitude to say that they do not proceed from God, but cleave to matter, and have their abode among mortal things; while the course of mortal things being the same from beginning to end, the same things must always, agreeably to the appointed cycles, recur in the past, present, and future." Celsus here observes that it is not easy for one who is not a philosopher to ascertain the origin of evils, as if it were an easy matter for a philosopher to gain this knowledge, while for one who is not a philosopher it was difficult, though still possible, for such an one, although with great labour, to attain it. Now, to this we say, that the origin of evils is a subject which is not easy even for a philosopher to master, and that perhaps it is impossible even for such to attain a clear understanding of it, unless it be revealed to them by divine inspiration, both what evils are, and how they originated, and how they shall be made to disappear. But although ignorance of God is an evil, and one of the greatest of these is not to know how God is to be served and worshipped, yet, as even Celsus would admit, there are undoubtedly some philosophers who have been ignorant of this, as is evident from the views of the different philosophical sects; whereas, according to our judgment, no one is capable of ascertaining the origin of evils who does not know that it is wicked to suppose that piety is preserved uninjured amid the laws that are established in different states, in conformity with the generally prevailing ideas of government. No one, moreover, who has not heard what is related of him who is called "devil," and of his "angels," and what he was before he became a devil, and how he became such, and what was the cause of the simultaneous apostasy of those who are termed his angels, will be able to ascertain the origin of evils. But he who would attain to this knowledge must learn more accurately the nature of demons, and know that they are not the work of God so far as respects their demoniacal nature, but only in so far as they are possessed of reason; and also what their origin was, so that they became beings of such a nature, that while converted into demons, the powers of their mind remain. And if there be any topic of human investigation which is difficult for our nature to grasp, certainly the origin of evils may be considered to be such.
Celsus in the next place, as if he were able to tell certain secrets regarding the origin of evils, but chose rather to keep silence, and say only what was suitable to the multitude, continues as follows: "It is sufficient to say to the multitude regarding the origin of evils, that they do not proceed from God, but cleave to matter, and dwell among mortal things." It is true, certainly, that evils do not proceed from God; for according to Jeremiah, one of our prophets, it is certain that "out of the mouth of the Most High proceedeth not evil and good." But to maintain that matter, dwelling among mortal things, is the cause of evils, is in our opinion not true. For it is the mind of each individual which is the cause of the evil which arises in him, and this is evil (in the abstract); while the actions which proceed from it are wicked, and there is, to speak with accuracy, nothing else in our view that is evil. I am aware, however, that this topic requires very elaborate treatment, which (by the grace of Cod enlightening the mind) may be successfully attempted by him who is deemed by God worthy to attain the necessary knowledge on this subject.
I do not understand how Celsus should deem it of advantage, in writing a treatise against us, to adopt an opinion which requires at least much plausible reasoning to make it appear, as far as he can do so, that "the course of mortal things is the same from beginning to end, and that the same things must always, according to the appointed cycles, recur in the past, present, and future." Now, if this be true, our free-will is annihilated. For if, in the revolution of mortal things, the same events must perpetually occur in the past, present, and future, according to the appointed cycles, it is clear that, of necessity, Socrates will always be. a philosopher, and be condemned for introducing strange gods and for corrupting the youth. And Anytus and Melitus must always be his accusers, and the council of the Areopagus must ever condemn him to death by hemlock. And in the same way, according to the appointed cycles, Phalaris must always play the tyrant, and Alexander of Pherae commit the same acts of cruelty, and those condemned to the bull of Phalaris continually pour forth their wailings from it. But if these things be granted, I do not see how our free-will can be preserved, or how praise or blame can be administered with propriety. We may say further to Celsus, in answer to such a view, that "if the course of moral things be always the same from beginning to end, and if, according to the appointed cycles, the same events must always occur in the past, present, and future," then, according to the appointed cycles, Moses must again come forth from Egypt with the Jewish people, and Jesus again come to dwell in human life, and perform the same actions which (according to this view) he has done not once, but countless times, as the periods have revolved. Nay, Christians too will be the same in the appointed cycles; and Celsus will again write this treatise of his, which he has done innumerable times before.
Celsus, however, says that it is only "the course of mortal things which, according to the appointed cycles, must always be the same in the past, present, and future;" whereas the majority of the Stoics maintain that this is the case not only with the course of mortal, but also with that of immortal things, and of those whom they regard as gods. For after the conflagration of the world, which has taken place countless times in the past, and will happen countless times in the future, there has been, and will be, the same arrangement of all things from the beginning to the end. The Stoics, indeed, in endeavouring to parry, I don't know how, the objections raised to their views, allege that as cycle after cycle returns, all men will be altogether unchanged from those who lived in former cycles; so that Socrates will not live again, but one altogether like to Socrates, who will marry a wife exactly like Xanthippe, and will be accused by men exactly like Anytus and Melitus. I do not understand, however, how the world is to be always the same, and one individual not different from another, and yet the things in it not the same, though exactly alike. But the main argument in answer to the statements of Celsus and of the Stoics will be more appropriately investigated elsewhere, since on the present occasion it is not consistent with the purpose we have in view to expatiate on these points.
He continues to say that "neither have visible things been given to man (by God), but each individual thing comes into existence and perishes for the sake of the safety of the whole passing agreeably to the change, which I have already mentioned, from one thing to another." It is unnecessary, however, to linger over the refutation of these statements, which have been already refuted to the best of my ability. And the following, too, has been answered, viz., that "there will neither be more nor less good and evil among mortals." This point also has been referred to, viz., that "God does not need to amend His work afresh." But it is not as a man who has imperfectly designed some piece of workmanship, and executed it unskilfully, that God administers correction to the world, in purifying it by a flood or by a conflagration, but in order to prevent the tide of evil from rising to a greater height; and, moreover, I am of opinion that it is at periods which are precisely determined beforehand that He sweeps wickedness away, so as to contribute to the good of the whole world. If, however, he should assert that, after the disappearance of evil, it again comes into existence, such questions will have to be examined in a special treatise. It is, then, always in order to repair what has become faulty s that God desires to amend His work afresh. For although, in the creation of the world, all things had been arranged by Him in the most beautiful and stable manner, He nevertheless needed to exercise some healing power upon those who were labouring under the disease of wickedness, and upon a whole world, which was polluted as it were thereby. But nothing has been neglected by God, or will be neglected by Him; for He does at each particular juncture what it becomes Him to do in a perverted and changed world. And as a husbandman performs different acts of husbandry upon the soil and its productions, according to the varying seasons of the year, so God administers entire ages of time, as if they were, so to speak, so many individual years, performing during each one of them what is requisite with a reasonable regard to the care of the world; and this, as it is truly understood by God alone, so also is it accomplished by Him.
Celsus has made a statement regarding evils of the following nature, viz., that "although a thing may seem to you to be evil, it is by no means certain that it is so; for you do not know what is of advantage to yourself, or to another, or to the whole world." Now this assertion is made with a certain degree of caution; and it hints that the nature of evil is not wholly wicked, because that which may be considered so in individual cases, may contain something which is of advantage to the whole community. However, lest any one should mistake my words, and find a pretence of wrongdoing, as if his wickedness were profitable to the world, or at least might be so, we have to say, that although God, who preserves the free-will of each individual, may make use of the evil of the wicked for the administration of the world, so disposing them as to conduce to the benefit of the whole; yet, notwithstanding, such an individual is deserving of censure, and as such has been appointed for a use, which is a subject of loathing to each separate individual, although of advantage to the whole community. It is as if one were to say that in the case of a city, a man who had committed certain crimes, and on account of these had been condemned to serve in public works that were useful to the community, did something that was of advantage to the entire city, while he himself was engaged in an abominable task, in which no one possessed of moderate understanding would wish to be engaged. Paul also, the apostle of Jesus, teaches us that even the very wicked will contribute to the good of the whole, while in themselves they will be amongst the vile, but that the most virtuous men, too, will be of the greatest advantage to the world, and will therefore on that account occupy the noblest position. His words are: "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for the Master's use, prepared unto every good work." These remarks I have thought it necessary to make in reply to the assertion, that "although a thing may seem to you to be evil, it is by no means certain that it is so, for you do not know what is of advantage either to yourself or to another," in order that no one may take occasion from what has been said on the subject to commit sin, on the pretext that he will thus be useful to the world.
But as, in what follows, Celsus, not understanding that the language of Scripture regarding God is adapted to an anthropopathic point of view, ridicules those passages which speak of words of anger addressed to the ungodly, and of threatenings directed against sinners, we have to say that, as we ourselves, when talking with very young children, do not aim at exerting our own power of eloquence, but, adapting ourselves to the weakness of our charge, both say and do those thingS which may appear to us useful for the correction and improvement of the children as children, so the word of God appears to have dealt with the history, making the capacity of the hearers, and the benefit which they were to receive, the standard of the appropriateness of its announcements (regarding Him). And, generally, with regard to such a style of speaking about God, we find in the book of Deuteronomy the following: "The LORD thy God bare with your manners, as a man would bear with the manners of his son." It is, as it were, assuming the manners of a man in order to secure the advantage of men that the Scripture makes use of such expressions; for it would not have been suitable to the condition of the multitude, that what God had to say to them should be spoken by Him in a manner more befitting the majesty of His own person. And yet he who is anxious to attain a true understanding of holy Scripture, will discover the spiritual truths which are spoken by it to those who are called "spiritual," by comparing the meaning of what is addressed to those of weaker mind with what is announced to such as are of acuter understanding, both meanings being frequently found in the same passage by him who is capable of comprehending it.
We speak, indeed, of the "wrath" of God. We do not, however, assert that it indicates any "passion" on His part, but that it is something which is asumed in order to discipline by stern means those sinners who have committed many and grievous sins. For that which is called God's "wrath," and "anger," is a means of discipline; and that such a view is agreeable to Scripture, is evident from what is said in the sixth Psalm, "O LORD, rebuke me not in Thine anger, neither chasten me in Thy hot displeasure;" and also in jeremiah. "O LORD, correct me, but with judgment: not in Thine anger, lest Thou bring me to nothing." Any one, moreover, who reads in the second book of Kings of the "wrath" of God, inducing David to number the people, and finds from the first book of Chronicles that it was the devil who suggested this measure, will, on comparing together the two statements, easily see for what purpose the "wrath" is mentioned, of which "wrath," as the Apostle Paul declares, all men are children: "We were by nature children of wrath, even as others." Moreover, that "wrath" is no passion on the part of God, but that each one bringS it upon himself by his sins, will be clear from the further statement of Paul: "Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God." How, then, can any one treasure up for himself "wrath" against a "day of wrath," if "wrath" be understood in the sense of "passion?" or how can the "passion of wrath" be a help to discipline? Besides, the Scripture, which tells us not to be angry at all, and which says in the thirty-seventh Psalm, "Cease from anger, and forsake wrath," and which commands us by the mouth of Paul to "put off all these, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication," would not involve God in the same passion from which it would have us to be altogether free. It is manifest, further, that the language used regarding the wrath of God is to be understood figuratively from what is related of His "sleep," from which, as if awaking Him, the prophet says: "Awake, why sleepest Thou, Lord?" and again: "Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine." If, then, "sleep" must mean something else, and not what the first acceptation of the word conveys, why should not "wrath" also be understood in a similar way? The "threatenings," again, are intimations of the (punishments) which are to befall the wicked: for it is as if one were to call the words of a physician "threats," when he tells his patients, "I will have to use the knife, and apply cauteries, if you do not obey my prescriptions, and regulate your diet and mode of life in such a way as I direct you." It is no human passions, then, which we ascribe to God, nor impious opinions which we entertain of Him; nor do we err when we present the various narratives concerning Him, drawn from the Scriptures themselves, after careful comparison one with another. For those who are wise ambassadors of the "word" have no other object in view than to free as far as they can their hearers from weak opinions, and to endue them with intelligence.
And as a sequel to his non-understanding of the statements regarding the "wrath" of God, he continues: "Is it not ridiculous to suppose that, whereas a man, who became angry with the Jews, slew them all from the youth upwards, and burned their city (so powerless were they to resist him), the mighty God, as they say, being angry, and indignant, and uttering threats, should, (instead of punishing them,) send His own Son, who endured the sufferings which He did?" If the Jews, then, after the treatment which they dared to inflict upon Jesus, perished with all their youth, and had their city consumed by fire, they suffered this punishment in consequence of no other wrath than that which they treasured up for themselves; for the judgment of God against them, which was determined by the divine appointment, is termed "wrath" agreeably to a traditional usage of the Hebrews. And what the Son of the mighty God suffered, He suffered voluntarily for the salvation of men, as has been stated to the best of my ability in the preceding pages. He then continues: "But that I may speak not of the Jews alone (for that is not my object), but of the whole of nature, as I promised, I will bring out more clearly what has been already stated." Now what modest man, on reading these words, and knowing the weakness of humanity, would not be indignant at the offensive nature of the promise to give an account of the "whole of nature," and at an arrogance like that which prompted him to inscribe upon his book the title which he ventured to give it (of a True Discourse)? But let us see what he has to say regarding the "whole of nature," and what he is to place "in a clearer light."
He next, in many words, blames us for asserting that God made all things for the sake of man. Because from the history of animals, and from the sagacity manifested by them, he would show that all things came into existence not more for the sake of man than of the irrational animals. And here he seems to me to speak in a similar manner to those who, through dislike of their enemies, accuse them of the same things for which their own friends are commended. For as, in the instance referred to, hatred blinds these persons from seeing that they are accusing their very dearest friends by the means through which they think they are slandering their enemies; so in the same way, Celsus also, becoming confused in his argument, does not see that he is bringing a charge against the philosophers of the Porch, who, not amiss, place man in the foremost rank, and rational nature in general before irrational animals, and who maintain that Providence created all things mainly on account of rational nature. Rational beings, then, as being the principal ones, occupy the place, as it were, of children in the womb, while irrational and soulless beings hold that of the envelope which is created along with the child. I think, too, that as in cities the superintendents of the goods and market discharge their duties for the sake of no other than human beings, while dogs and other irrational animals have the benefit of the superabundance; so Providence provides in a special manner for rational creatures; while this l also follows, that irrational creatures likewise enjoy the benefit of what is done for the sake of man. And as he is in error who alleges that the superintendents of the markets make provision in no greater degree for men than for dogs, because dogs also get their share of the goods; so in a far greater degree are Celsus and they who think with him guilty of impiety towards the God who makes provision for rational beings, in asserting that His arrangements are made in no greater degree for the sustenance of human beings than for that of plants, and trees, and herbs, and thorns.
For, in the first place, he is of opinion that "thunders, and lightnings, and rains are not the works of God,"—thus showing more clearly at last his Epicurean leanings; and in the second place, that "even if one were to grant that these were the works of God, they are brought into existence not more for the support of us who are human beings, than for that of plants, and trees, and herbs, and thorns,"—maintaining, like a true Epicurean, that these things are the product of chance, and not the work of Providence. For if these things are of no more use to us than to plants, and trees, and herbs, and thorns, it is evident either that they do not proceed from Providence at all, or from a providence which does not provide for us in a greater degree than for trees, and herbs, and thorns. Now, either of these suppositions is impious in itself, and it would be foolish to refute such statements by answering any one who brought against us the charge of impiety; for it is manifest to every one, from what has been said, who is the person guilty of impiety. In the next place, he adds: "Although you may say that these things, viz., plants, and trees, and herbs, and thorns, grow for the use of men, why will you maintain that they grow for the use of men rather than for that of the most savage of irrational animals?" Let Celsus then say distinctly that the great diversity among the products of the earth is not the work of Providence, but that a certain fortuitous concurrence of atoms gave birth to qualities so diverse, and that it was owing to chance that so many kinds of plants, and trees, and herbs resemble one another, and that no disposing reason gave existence to them, and that they do not derive their origin from an understanding that is beyond all admiration. We Christians, however, who are devoted to the worship of the only God, who created these things, feel grateful for them to Him who made them, because not only for us, but also (on our account) for the animals which are subject to us, He has prepared such a home, seeing "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man, that He may bring forth food out of the earth, and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart." But that He should have provided food even for the most savage animals is not matter of surprise, for these very animals are said by some who have philosophized (upon the subject) to have been created for the purpose of affording exercise to the rational creature. And one of our own wise men says somewhere: "Do not say, What is this? or Wherefore is that? for all things have been made for their uses. And do not say, What is this? or Wherefore is that? for everything shall be sought out in its season."
After this, Celsus, desirous of maintaining that Providence created the products of the earth, not more on our account than on that of the most savage animals, thus proceeds: "We indeed by labour and suffering earn a scanty and toilsome subsistence, while all things are produced for them without their sowing and ploughing." He does not observe that God, wishing to exercise the human understanding in all countries (that it might not remain idle and unacquainted with the arts), created man a being full of wants, in order that by virtue of his very needy condition he might be compelled to be the inventor of arts, some of which minister to his subsistence, and others to his protection. For it was better that those who would not have sought out divine things, nor engaged in the study of philosophy, should be placed in a condition of want, in order that they might employ their understanding in the invention of the arts, than that they should altogether neglect the cul-tivation of their minds, because their condition was one of abundance. The want of the necessaries of human life led to the invention on the one hand of the art of husbandry, on the other to that of the cultivation of the vine; again, to the art of gardening, and the arts of carpentry and smithwork, by means of which were formed the tools required for the arts which minister to the support of life. The want of covering, again, introduced the art of weaving, which followed that of wool-carding and spinning; and again, that of house- building: and thus the intelligence of men ascended even to the art of architecture. The want of necessaries caused the products also of other places to be conveyed, by means of the arts of sailing and pilotage, to those who were without them; so that even on that account one might admire the Providence which made the rational being subject to want in a far higher degree than the irrational animals, and yet all with a view to his advantage. For the irrational animals have their food provided for them, because there is not in them even an impulse towards the invention of the arts. They have, besides, a natural covering; for they are provided either with hair, or wings, or scales, or shells. Let the above, then, be our answer to the assertions of Celsus, when he says that "we indeed by labour and suffering earn a scanty and toilsome subsistence, while all things are produced for them without their sowing and ploughing."
In the next place, forgetting that his object is to accuse both Jews and Christians, he quotes against himself an iambic verse of Euripides, which is opposed to his view, and, joining issue with the words, charges them with being an erroneous statement. His words are as follow: "But if you will quote the saying of Euripides, that
'The Sun and Night are to mortals slaves,'
why should they be so in a greater degree to us than to ants and flies? For the night is created for them in order that they may rest, and the day that they may see and resume their work." Now it is undoubted, that not only have certain of the Jews and Christians declared that the sun and the heavenly bodies are our servants; but he also has said this, who, according to some, is the philosopher of the stage, and who was a hearer of the lectures on the philosophy of nature delivered by Anaxagoras. But this man asserts that all things in the world are subject to all rational beings,—one rational nature being taken to represent all, On the principle of a part standing for the whole; which, again, clearly appears from the verse:—
"The Sun and Night are to mortals slaves."
Perhaps the tragic poet meant the day when he said the sun, inasmuch as it is the cause of the day,—teaching that those things which most need the day and night are the things which are under the moon, and other things in a less degree than those which are upon the earth. Day and night, then, are subject to mortals, being created for the sake of rational beings. And if ants and flies, which labour by day and rest by night, have, besides, the benefit of those things which were created for the sake of men, we must not say that day and night were brought into being for the sake of ants and flies, nor must we suppose that they were created for the sake of nothing, but, agreeably to the design of Providence, were formed for the sake of man.
He next proceeds further to object against himself what is said on behalf of man, viz., that the irrational animals were created on his account, saying: "If one were to call us the lords of the animal creation because we hunt the other animals and live upon their flesh, we would say, Why were not we rather created on their account, since they hunt and devour us? Nay, we require nets and weapons, and the assistance of many persons, along with dogs, when engaged in the chase; while they are immediately and spontaneously provided by nature with weapons which easily bring us under their power." And here we may observe, that the gift of understanding has been bestowed upon us as a mighty aid, far superior to any weapon which wild beasts may seem to possess. We, indeed, who are far weaker in bodily strength than the beasts, and shorter in stature than some of them, yet by means of our understanding obtain the mastery, and capture the huge elephants. We subdue by our gentle treatment those animals whose nature it is to be tamed, while with those whose nature is different, or which do not appear likely to be of use to us when tamed, we take such precautionary measures, that when we desire it, we keep such wild beasts shut up; and when we need the flesh of their bodies for food, we slaughter them, as we do those beasts which are not of a savage nature. The Creator, then, has constituted all things the servants of the rational being and of his natural understanding. For some purposes we require dogs, say as guardians of our sheep-folds, or of our cattle-yards, or goat-pastures, or of our dwellings; and for other purposes we need oxen, as for agriculture; and for others, again, we make use of those which bear the yoke, or beasts of burden. And so it may be said that the race of lions, and bears, and leopards, and wild boars, and such like, has been given to us in order to call into exercise the elements of the manly character that exists within us.
In the next place, in answer to the human race, who perceive their own superiority, which far exceeds that of the irrational animals, he says: "With respect to your assertion, that God gave you the power to capture wild beasts, and to make your own use of them, we would say that, in all probability, before cities were built, and arts invented, and societies such as now exist were formed, and weapons and nets employed, men were generally caught and devoured by wild beasts, while wild beasts were very seldom captured by men." Now, in reference to this, observe that although men catch wild beasts, and wild beasts make prey of men, there is a great difference between the case of such as by means of their understanding obtain the mastery over those whose superiority consists in their savage and cruel nature, and that of those who do not make use of their understanding to secure their safety from injury by wild beasts. But when Celsus gays, "before cities were built, and arts invented, and societies such as now exist were formed," he appears to have forgotten what he had before said, that "the world was uncreated and incorruptible, and that it was only the things on earth which underwent deluges and conflagrations, and that all these things did not happen at the same time." Now let if be granted that these admissions on his part are entirely in harmony with our views, though not at all with him and his statements made above; yet what does it all avail to prove that in the beginning men were mostly captured and devoured by wild beasts, while wild beasts were never caught by men? For, since the world was created in conformity with the will of Providence, and God presided over the universe of things, it was necessary that the elements of the human race should at the commencement of its existence be placed under some protection of the higher powers, so that there might be formed from the beginning a union of the divine nature with that of men. And the poet of Ascra, perceiving this, sings:—
"For common then were banquets, and common were seats,
Alike to immortal gods and mortal men."
Those holy Scriptures, moreover, which bear the name of Moses, introduce the first men as hearing divine voices and oracles, and beholding sometimes the angels of God coming to visit them. For it was probable that in the beginning of the world's existence human nature would be assisted to a greater degree (than afterwards), until progress had been made towards the attainment of understanding and the other virtues, and the invention of the arts, and they should thus be able to maintain life of themselves, and no longer stand in need of superintendents, and of those to guide them who do so with a miraculous manifestation of the means which subserve the will of God. Now it follows from this, that it is false that "in the beginning men were captured and devoured by wild beasts, while wild beasts were very seldom caught by men." And from this, too, it is evident that the following statement of Celsus is untrue, that "in this way God rather subjected men to wild beasts." For God did not subject men to wild beasts, but gave wild beasts to be a prey to the understanding of man, and to the arts, which are directed against them, and which are the product of the understanding. For it was not without the help of God that men desired for themselves the means of protection against wild beasts, and of securing the mastery over them.
Our noble opponent, however, not observing how many philosophers there are who admit the existence of Providence, and who hold that Providence created all things for the sake of rational beings, overturns as far as he can those doctrines which are of use in showing the harmony that prevails in these matters between Christianity and philosophy; nor does he see how great is the injury done to religion from accepting the statement that before God there is no difference between a man and an ant or a bee, but proceeds to add, that "if men appear to be superior to irrational animals on this account, that they have built cities, and make use of a political constitution, and forms of government, and sovereignties, this is to say nothing to the purpose, for ants and bees do the same. Bees, indeed, have a sovereign, who has followers and attendants; and there occur among them wars and victories, and slaughterings of the vanquished, and cities and suburbs, and a succession of labours, and judgments passed upon the idle and the wicked; for the drones are driven away and punished." Now here he did not observe the difference that exists between what is done after reason and consideration, and what is the result of an irrational nature, and is purely mechanical. For the origin of these things is not explained by the existence of any rational principle in those who make them, because they do not possess any such principle; but the most ancient Being, who is also the Son of God, and the King of all things that exist, has created an irrational nature, which, as being irrational, acts as a help to those who are deemed worthy of reason. Cities, accordingly, were established among men, with many arts and well-arranged laws; while constitutions, and governments, and sovereignties among men are either such as are properly so termed, and which exemplify certain virtuous tendencies and workings, or they are those which are improperly so called, and which were devised, so far as could be done, in imitation of the former: for it was by contemplating these that the most successful legislators established the best constitutions, and governments, and sovereignties. None of these things, however, can be found among irrational animals, although Celsus may transfer rational names, and arrangements which belong to rational beings, as cities and constitutions, and rulers and sovereignties, even to ants and bees; in respect to which matters, however, ants and bees merit no approval, because they do not act from reflection. But we ought to admire the divine nature, which extended even to irrational animals the capacity, as it were, of imitating rational beings, perhaps with a view of putting rational beings to shame; so that by looking upon ants, for instance, they might become more industrious and more thrifty in the management of their goods; while, by considering the bees, they might place themselves in subjection to their Ruler, and take their respective parts in those constitutional duties which are of use in ensuring the safety of cities.
Perhaps also the so-called wars among the bees convey instruction as to the manner in which wars, if ever there arise a necessity for them, should be waged in a just and orderly way among men. But the bees have no cities or suburbs; while their hives and hexagonal cells, and succession of labours, are for the sake of men, who require honey for many purposes, both for cure of disordered bodies, and as a pure article of food. Nor ought we to compare the proceedings taken by the bees against the drones with the judgments and punishments inflicted on the idle and wicked in cities. But, as I formerly said, we ought on the one hand in these things to admire the divine nature, and on the other to express our admiration of man, who is capable of considering and admiring all things (as co-operating with Providence), and who executes not merely the works which are determined by the providence of God, but also those which are the consequences of his own foresight.
After Celsus has finished speaking of the bees, in order to depreciate (as far as he can) the cities, and constitutions, and governments, and sovereignties not only of us Christians, but of all mankind, as well as the wars which men undertake on behalf of their native countries, he proceeds, by way of digression, to pass a eulogy upon the ants, in order that, while praising them, he may compare the measures which men take to secure their subsistence with those adopted by these insects, and so evince his contempt for the forethought which makes provision for winter, as being nothing higher than the irrational providence of the ants, as he regards it. it. Now might not some of the more simple-minded, and such as know not how to look into the nature of all things, be turned away (so far, at least, as Celsus could accomplish it) from helping those who are weighed down with the burdens (of life), and from sharing their toils, when he says of the ants, that "they help one another with their loads, when they see one of their number toiling under them?" For he who needs to be disciplined by the word, but who does not at all understand its voice, will say: "Since, then, there is no difference between us and the ants, even when we help those who are weary with bearing their heavy burdens, why should we continue to do so to no purpose?" And would not the ants, as being irrational creature, be greatly puffed up, and think highly of themselves, because their works were compared to those of men? while men, on the other hand, who by means of their reason are enabled to hear how their philanthropy towards others is contemned, would be injured, so far as could be effected by Celsus and his arguments: for he does not perceive that, while he wishes to turn away from Christianity those who read his treatise, he turns away also the sympathy of those who are not Christians from those who bear the heaviest burdens (of life). Whereas, had he been a philosopher, who was capable of perceiving the good which men may do each other, he ought, in addition to not removing along with Christianity the blessings which are found amongst men, to have lent his aid to co-operate (if he had it in his power) with those principles of excellence which are common to Christianity and the rest of mankind. Moreover, even if the ants set apart in a place by themselves those grains which sprout forth, that they may not swell into bud, but may continue throughout the year as their food, this is not to be deemed as evidence of the existence of reason among ants, but as the work of the universal mother, Nature, which adorned even irrational animals, so that even the most insignificant is not omitted, but bears traces of the reason implanted in it by nature. Unless, indeed, by these assertions Celsus means obscurely to intimate (for in many instances he would like to adopt Platonic ideas) that all souls are of the same species, and that there is no difference between that of a man and those of ants and bees, which is the act of one who would bring down the soul from the vault of heaven, and cause it to enter not only a human body, but that of an animal. Christians, however, will not yield their assent to such opinions: for they have been instructed before now that the human soul was created in the image of God; and they see that it is impossible for a nature fashioned in the divine image to have its (original) features altogether obliterated, and to assume others, formed after I know not what likeness of irrational animals.
And since he asserts that, "when ants die, the survivors set apart a special place (for their interment), and that their ancestral sepulchres such a place is," we have to answer, that the greater the laudations which he heaps upon irrational animals, so much the more does he magnify (although against his will) the work of that reason which arranged all things in order, and points out the skill which exists among men, and which is capable of adorning by its reason even the gifts which are bestowed by nature on the irrational creation. But why do I say "irrational," since Celsus is of opinion that these animals, which, agreeably to the common ideas of all men, are termed irrational, are not really so? Nor does he regard the ants as devoid of reason, who professed to speak of "universal nature," and who boasted of his truthfulness in the inscription of his book. For, speaking of the ants conversing with one another, he uses the following language: "And when they meet one another they enter into conversation, for which reason they never mistake their way; consequently they possess a full endowment of reason, and some common ideas on certain general subjects, and a voice by which they express themselves regarding accidental things." Now conversation between one man and another is carried on by means of a voice, which gives expression to the meaning intended, and which also gives utterances concerning what are called "accidental things;" but to say that this was the case with ants would be a most ridiculous assertion.
He is not ashamed, moreover, to say, in addition to these statements (that the unseemly character of his opinions may be manifest to those who will live after him): "Come now, if one were to look down from heaven upon earth, in what respect would our actions appear to differ from those of ants and bees?" Now does he who, according to his own supposition, looks from heaven upon the proceedings of men and ants, look upon their bodies alone, and not rather have regard to the controlling reason which is called into action by reflection; while, on the other hand, the guiding principle of the latter is irrational, and set in motion irrationally by impulse and fancy, in conjunction with a certain natural apparatus? But it is absurd to suppose that he who looks from heaven upon earthly things would desire to look from such a distance upon the bodies of men and ants, and would not rather consider the nature of the guiding principles, and the source of impulses, whether that be rational or irrational. And if he once look upon the source of all impulses, it is manifest that he would behold also the difference which exists, and the superiority of man, not only over ants, but even over elephants. For he who looks from heaven will see among irrational creatures, however large their bodies, no other principle than, so to speak, irrationality; while amongst rational beings he will discover reason, the common possession of men, and of divine and heavenly beings, and perhaps of the Supreme God Himself, on account of which man is said to have been created in the image of God, for the image of the Supreme God is his reason.
Immediately after this, as if doing his utmost to reduce the human race to a still lower position, and to bring them to the level of the irrational animals, and desiring to omit not a single circumstance related of the latter which manifests their greatness, he declares that "in certain individuals among the irrational creation there exists the power of sorcery;" so that even in this particular men cannot specially pride themselves, nor wish to arrogate a superiority over irrational creatures. And the following are his words: "If, however, men entertain lofty notions because of their possessing the power of sorcery, yet even in that respect are serpents and eagles their superiors in wisdom; for they are acquainted with many prophylactics against persons and diseases, and also with the virtues of certain stones which help to preserve their young. If men, however, fall in with these, they think that they have gained a wonderful possession." Now, in the first place, I know not why he should designate as sorcery the knowledge of natural prophylactics displayed by animals,— whether that knowledge be the result of experience, or of some natural power of apprehension; for the term "sorcery" has by usage been assigned to something else. Perhaps, indeed, he wishes quietly, as an Epicurean, to censure the entire use of such arts, as resting only on the professions of sorcerers. However, let it be granted him that men do pride themselves greatly upon the knowledge of such arts, whether they are sorcerers or not: how can serpents be in this respect wiser than men, when they make use of the well-known fennel to sharpen their power of vision and to produce rapidity of movement, having obtained this natural power not from the exercise of reflection, but from the constitution of their body, while men do not, like serpents, arrive at such knowledge merely by nature, but partly by experiment, partly by reason, and sometimes by reflection and knowledge? So, if eagles, too, in order to preserve their young in the nest, carry thither the eagle-stone when they have discovered it, how does it appear that they are wise, and more intelligent than men, who find out by the exercise of their reflective powers and of their understanding what has been bestowed by nature upon eagles as a gift?
Let it be granted, however, that there are other prophylactics against poisons known to animals: what does that avail to prove that it is not nature, but reason, which leads to the discovery of such things among them? For if reason were the discoverer, this one thing (or, if you will, one or two more things) would not be (exclusive of all others) the sole discovery made by serpents, and some other thing the sole discovery of the eagle, and so on with the rest of the animals; but as many discoveries would have been made amongst them as among men. But now it is manifest from the determinate inclination of the nature of each animal towards certain kinds of help, that they possess neither wisdom nor reason, but a natural constitutional tendency implanted by the Logos towards such things in order to ensure the preservation of the animal. And, indeed, if I wished to join issue with Celsus in these matters, I might quote the words of Solomon from the book of Proverbs, which run thus: "There be four things which are little upon the earth, but these are wiser than the wise: The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer; the conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks; the locusts have no king, yet go they forth in order at one command; and the spotted lizard, though leaning upon its hands, and being easily captured, dwelleth in kings' fortresses." I do not quote these words, however, as taking them in their literal signification, but, agreeably to the title of the book (for it is inscribed "Proverbs"), I investigate them as containing a secret meaning. For it is the custom of these writers (of Scripture) to distribute into many classes those writings which express one sense when taken literally, but which convey a different signification as their hidden meaning; and one of these kinds of writing is "Proverbs." And for this reason, in our Gospels too, is our Saviour described as saying: "These things have I spoken to you in proverbs, but the time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs." It is not, then, the visible ants which are "wiser even than the wise," but they who are indicated as such under the "proverbial" style of expression. And such must be our conclusion regarding the rest of the animal creation, although Celsus regards the books of the Jews and Christians as exceedingly simple and commonplace, and imagines that those who give them an allegorical interpretation do violence to the meaning of the writers. By what we have said, then, let it appear that Celsus calumniates us in vain, and let his assertions that serpents and eagles are wiser than men also receive their refutation.
And wishing to show at greater length that even the thoughts of God entertained by the human race are not superior to those of all other mortal creatures, but that certain of the irrational animals are capable of thinking about Him regarding whom opinions so discordant have existed among the most acute of mankind—Greeks and Barbarians—he continues: "If, because man has been able to grasp the idea of God, he is deemed superior to the other animals, let those who hold this opinion know that this capacity will be claimed by many of the other animals; and with good reason: for what would any one maintain to be more divine than the power of foreknowing and predicting future events? Men accordingly acquire the art from the other animals, and especially from birds. And those who listen to the indications furnished by them, become possessed of the gift of prophecy. If, then, birds, and the other prophetic animals, which are enabled by the gift of God to foreknow events, instruct us by means of signs, so much the nearer do they seem to be to the society of God, and to be endowed with greater wisdom, and to be more beloved by Him. The more intelligent of men, moreover, say that the animals hold meetings which are more sacred than our assemblies, and that they know what is said at these meetings, and show that in reality they possess this knowledge, when, having previously stated that the birds have declared their intention of departing to some particular place, and of doing this thing or the other, the truth of their assertions is established by the departure of the birds to the place in question, and by their doing what was foretold. And no race of animals appears to be more observant of oaths than the elephants are, or to show greater devotion to divine things; and this, I presume, solely because they have some knowledge of God." See here now how he at once lays hold of, and brings forward as acknowledged facts, questions which are the subject of dispute among those philosophers, not only among the Greeks, but also among the Barbarians, who have either discovered or learned from certain demons some things about birds of augury and other animals, by which certain prophetic intimations are said to be made to men. For, in the first place, it has been disputed whether there is an art of augury, and, in general, a method of divination by animals, or not. And, in the second place, they who admit that there is an art of divination by birds, are not agreed about the manner of the divination; since some maintain that it is from certain demons or gods of divination s that the animals receive their impulses to action—the birds to flights and sounds of different kinds, and the other animals to movements of one sort or another. Others, again, believe that their souls are more divine in their nature, and fitted to operations of that kind, which is a most incredible supposition.
Celsus, however, seeing he wished to prove by the foregoing statements that the irrational animals are more divine and intelligent than human beings, ought to have established at greater length the actual existence of such an art of divination, and in the next place have energetically undertaken its defence, and effectually refuted the arguments of those who would annihilate such arts of divination, and have overturned in a convincing manner also the arguments of those who say that it is from demons or from gods that animals receive the movements which lead them to divination, and to have proved in the next place that the soul of irrational animals is more divine than that of man. For, had he done so, and manifested a philosophical spirit in dealing with such things, we should to the best of our power have met his confident assertions, refuting in the first place the allegation that irrational animals are wiser than men, and showing the falsity of the statement that they have ideas of God more sacred than ours, and that they hold among themselves certain sacred assemblies. But now, on the contrary, he who accuses us because we believe in the Supreme God, requires us to believe that the souls of birds entertain ideas of God more divine and distinct than those of men. Yet if this is true, the birds have clearer ideas of God than Celsus himself; and it is not matter of surprise that it should be so with him, who so greatly depreciates human beings. Nay, so far as Celsus can make it appear, the birds possess grander and more divine ideas than, I do not say we Christians do, or than the Jews, who use the same Scriptures with ourselves, but even than are possessed by the theologians among the Greeks, for they were only human beings. According to Celsus, indeed, the tribe of birds that practise divination, forsooth, understand the nature of the Divine Being better than Pherecydes, and Pythagoras, and Socrates and Plato! We ought then to go to the birds as our teachers, in order that as, according to the view of Celsus, they instruct us by their power of divination in the knowledge of future events, so also they may free men from doubts regarding the Divine Being, by imparting to them the clear ideas which they have obtained respecting Him! It follows, accordingly, that Celsus, who regards birds as superior to men, ought to employ them as his instructors, and not one of the Greek philosophers.
But we have a few remarks to make, out of a larger number, in answer to these statements of Celsus, that we may show the ingratitude towards his Maker which is involved in his holding these false opinions. For Celsus, although a man, and "being in honour," does not possess understanding, and therefore he did not compare himself with the birds and the other irrational animals, which he regards as capable of divining; but yielding to them the foremost place, he lowered himself, and as far as he could the whole human race with him (as entertaining lower and inferior views of God than the irrational animals), beneath the Egyptians, who worship irrational animals as divinities. Let the principal point of investigation, however, be this: whether there actually is or not an art of divination, by means of birds and other living things believed to have such power. For the arguments which tend to establish either view are not to be despised. On the one hand, it is pressed upon us not to admit such an art, lest the rational being should abandon the divine oracles, and betake himself to birds; and on the other, there is the energetic testimony of many, that numerous individuals have been saved from the greatest dangers by putting their trust in divination by birds. For the present, however, let it be granted that an art of divination does exist, in order that I may in this way show to those who are prejudiced on the subject, that if this be admitted, the superiority of man over irrational animals, even over those that are endowed with power of divination, is great, and beyond all reach of comparison with the latter. We have then to say, that if there was in them any divine nature capable of foretelling future events, and so rich (in that knowledge) as out of its superabundance to make them known to any man who wished to know them, it is manifest that they would know what concerned themselves far sooner (than what concerned others); and had they possessed this knowledge, they would have been upon their guard against flying to any particular place Where men had planted snares and nets to catch them, or where archers took aim and shot at them in their flight. And especially, were eagles aware beforehand of the designs formed against their young, either by serpents crawling up to their nests and destroying them, or by men who take them for their amusement, or for any other useful purpose or service, they would not have placed their young in a spot where they were to be attacked; and, in general, not one of these animals would have been captured by men, because they were more divine and intelligent than they.
But besides, if birds of augury converse with one another, as Celsus maintains they do, the prophetic birds having a divine nature, and the other rational animals also ideas of the divinity and foreknowledge of future events; and if they had communicated this knowledge to others, the sparrow mentioned in Homer would not have built her nest in the spot where a serpent was to devour her and her young ones, nor would the serpent in the writings of the same poet have failed to take precautions against being captured by the eagle. For this wonderful poet says, in his poem regarding the former:—
"A mighty dragon shot, of dire portent;
From Jove himself the dreadful sign was sent.
Straight to the tree his sanguine spires he rolled,
And curled around in many a winding fold.
The topmost branch a mother-bird possessed;
Eight callow infants filled the mossy nest;
Herself the ninth: the serpent, as he hung,
Stretched his black jaws, and crashed the dying young;
While hovering near, with miserable moan,
The drooping mother wailed her children gone.
The mother last, as round the nest she flew,
Seized by the beating wing, the monster slew:
Nor long survived: to marble turned, he stands
A lasting prodigy on Aulis' sands.
Such was the will of Jove; and hence we dare
Trust in his omen, and support the war."
And regarding the second—the bird—the poet says:—
"Jove's bird on sounding pinions beat the skies;
A bleeding serpent of enormous size,
His talons twined; alive, and curling round,
He stung the bird, whose throat received the wound.
Mad with the smart, he drops the fatal prey,
In airy circles wings his painful way,
Floats on the winds, and rends the heaven with cries;
Amidst the host, the fallen serpent lies.
They, pale with terror, mark its spires unrolled,
And Jove's portent with beating hearts behold."
Did the eagle, then, possess the power of divination, and the serpent (since this animal also is made use of by the augurs) not? But as this distinction can be easily refuted, cannot the assertion that both were capable of divination be refuted also? For if the serpent had possessed this knowledge, would not he have been on his guard against suffering what he did from the eagle? And innumerable other instances of a similar character may be found, to show that animals do not possess a prophetic soul, but that, according to the poet and the majority of mankind, it is the "Olympian himself who sent him to the light." And it is with a symbolical meaning that Apollo employs the hawks as his messenger, for the hawk is called the "swift messenger of Apollo."
In my opinion, however, it is certain wicked demons, and, so to speak, of the race of Titans or Giants, who have been guilty of impiety towards the true God, and towards the angels in heaven, and who have fallen from it, and who haunt the denser parts of bodies, and frequent unclean places upon earth, and who, possessing some power of distinguishing future events, because they are without bodies of earthly material, engage in an employment of this kind, and desiring to lead the human race away from the true God, secretly enter the bodies of the more rapacious and savage and wicked of animals, and stir them up to do whatever they choose, and at whatever time they choose: either turning the fancies of these animals to make flights and movements of various kinds, in order that men may be caught by the divining power that is in the irrational animals, and neglect to seek after the God who contains all things; or to search after the pure worship of God, but allow their reasoning powers to grovel on the earth, and amongst birds and serpents, and even foxes and wolves. For it has been observed by those who are skilled in such matters, that the clearest prognostications are obtained from animals of this kind; because the demons cannot act so effectively in the milder sort of animals as they can in these, in consequence of the similarity between them in point of wickedness; and yet it is not wickedness, but something like wickedness, which exist in these animals.
For which reason, whatever else there may be in the writings of Moses which excites my wonder, I would say that the following is worthy of admiration, viz. that Moses, having observed the varying natures of animals, and having either learned from God what was peculiar to them, and to the demons which are kindred to each of the animals, or having himself ascertained these things by his own wisdom, has, in arranging the different kinds of animals, pronounced all those which are supposed by the Egyptians and the rest of mankind to possess the power of divination to be unclean, and, as a general rule, all that are not of that class to be clean. And amongst the unclean animals mentioned by Moses are the wolf, and fox, and serpent, and eagle, and hawk, and such like. And, generally speaking, you will find that not only in the law, but also in the prophets, these animals are employed as examples of all that is most wicked; and that a wolf or a fox is never mentioned for a good purpose. Each species of demon, consequently, would seem to possess a certain affinity with a certain species of animal. And as among men there are some who are stronger than others, and this not at all owing to their moral character, so, in the same way, some demons will be more powerful in things indifferent than others; and one class of them employs one kind of animal for the purpose of deluding men, in accordance with the will of him who is called in our Scriptures the "prince of this world," while others predict future events by means of another kind of animal. Observe, moreover, to what a pitch of wickedness the demons proceed, so that they even assume the bodies of weasels in order to reveal the future! And now, consider with yourself whether it is better to accept the belief that it is the Supreme God and His Son who stir up the birds and the other living creatures to divination, or that those who stir up these creatures, and not human beings (although they are present before them), are wicked, and, as they are called by our Scriptures, unclean demons.
But if the soul of birds is to be esteemed divine because future events are predicted by them, why should we not rather maintain, that when omens are accepted by men, the souls of those are divine through which the omens are heard? Accordingly, among such would be ranked the female slave mentioned in Homer, who ground the corn, when she said regarding the suitors:—
"For the very last time, now, will they sup here."
This slave, then, was divine, while the great Ulysses, the friend of Homer's Pallas Athene, was not divine, but understanding the words spoken by this "divine" grinder of corn as an omen, rejoiced, as the poet says:—
"The divine Ulysses rejoiced at the omen."
Observe, now, as the birds are possessed of a divine soul, and are capable of perceiving God, or, as Celsus says, the gods, it is clear that when we men also sneeze, we do so in consequence of a kind of divinity that is within us, and which imparts a prophetic power to our soul. For this belief is testified by many witnesses, and therefore the poet also says:—
"And while he prayed, he sneezed."
And Penelope, too, said:—
"Perceiv'st thou not that at every word my son did sneeze?"
The true God, however, neither employs irrational animals, nor any individuals whom chance may offer, to convey a knowledge of the future; but, on the contrary, the most pure and holy of human souls, whom He inspires and endows with prophetic power. And therefore, whatever else in the Mosaic writings may excite our wonder, the following must be considered as fitted to do so: "Ye shall not practise augury, nor observe the flight of birds;" and in another place: "For the nations whom the LORD thy God will destroy from before thy face, shall listen to omens and divinations; but as for thee, the LORD thy God has not suffered thee to do so." And he adds: "A prophet shall the LORD your God raise up unto you from among your brethren." On one occasion, moreover, God, wishing by means of an augur to turn away (His people) from the practice of divination, caused the spirit that was in the augur to speak as follows: "For there is no enchantment in Jacob, nor is there divination in Israel. In due time will it be declared to Jacob and Israel what the Lord will do." And now, we who knew these and similar sayings wish to observe this precept with the mystical meaning, viz., "Keep thy heart with all diligence," that nothing of a demoniacal nature may enter into our minds, or any spirit of our adversaries turn our imagination whither it chooses. But we pray that the light of the knowledge of the glory of God may shine in our hearts, and that the Spirit of God may dwell in our imaginations, and lead them to contemplate the things of God; for "as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."
We ought to take note, however, that the power of foreknowing the future is by no means a proof of divinity; for in itself it is a thing indifferent, and is found occurring amongst both good and bad. Physicians, at any rate, by means of their professional skill foreknow certain things, although their character may happen to be bad. And in the same way also pilots, although perhaps wicked men, are able to foretell the signs (of good or bad weather), and the approach of violent tempests of wind, and atmospheric changes, because they gather this knowledge from experience and observation, although I do not suppose that on that account any one would term them "gods" if their characters happened to be bad. The assertion, then, of Celsus is false, when he says: "What could be called more divine than the power of foreknowing and foretelling the future?" And so also is this, that "many of the animals claim to have ideas of God;" for none of the irrational animals possess any idea of God. And wholly false, too, is his assertion, that "the irrational animals are nearer the society of God (than men)," when even men who are still in a state of wickedness, however great their progress in knowledge, are far removed from that society. It is, then, those alone who are truly wise and sincerely religious who are nearer to God's society; such persons as were our prophets, and Moses, to the latter of whom, on account of his exceeding purity, the Scripture said: "Moses alone shall come near the LORD, but the rest shall not come nigh."
How impious, indeed, is the assertion of this man, who charges us with impiety, that "not only are the irrational animals wiser than the human race, but that they are more beloved by God (than they)!" And who would not be repelled (by horror) from paying any attention to a man who declared that a serpent, and a fox, and a wolf, and an eagle, and a hawk, were more beloved by God than the human race? For it follows from his maintaining such a position, that if these animals be more beloved by God than human beings, it is manifest that they are dearer to God than Socrates, and Plato, and Pythagoras, and Pherecydes, and those theologians whose praises he had sung a little before. And one might address him with the prayer: "If these animals be dearer to God than men, may you be beloved of God along with them, and be made like to those whom you consider as dearer to Him than human beings!" And let no one suppose that such a prayer is meant as an imprecation; for who would not pray to resemble in all respects those whom he believes to be dearer to God than others, in order that he, like them, may enjoy the divine love? And as Celsus is desirous to show that the assemblies of the irrational animals are more sacred than ours, he ascribes the statement to that effect not to any ordinary individuals, but to persons of intelligence. Yet it is the virtuous alone who are truly wise, for no wicked man is so. He speaks, accordingly, in the following style: "Intelligent men say that these animals hold assemblies which are more sacred than ours, and that they know what is spoken at them, and actually prove that they are not without such knowledge, when they mention beforehand that the birds have announced their intention of departing to a particular place, or of doing this thing or that, and then show that they have departed to the place in question, and have done the particular thing which was foretold." Now, truly, no person of intelligence ever related such things; nor did any wise man ever say that the assemblies of the irrational animals were more sacred than those of men. But if, for the purpose of examining (the soundness of) his statements, we look to their consequences, it is evident that, in his opinion, the assemblies of the irrational animals are more sacred than those of the venerable Pherecydes, and Pythagoras, and Socrates, and Plato, and of philosophers in general; which assertion is not only incongruous in itself, but full of absurdity. In order that we may believe, however, that certain individuals do learn from the indistinct sound of birds that they are about to take their departure, and do this thing or that, and announce these things beforehand, we would say that this information is imparted to men by demons by means of signs, with the view of having men deceived by demons, and having their understanding dragged down from God and heaven to earth, and to places lower still.
I do not know, moreover, how Celsus could hear of the elephants' (fidelity to) oaths, and of their great devotedness to our God, and of the knowledge which they possess of Him. For I know many wonderful things which are related of the nature of this animal, and of its gentle disposition. But I am not aware that any one has spoken of its observance of oaths; unless indeed to its gentle disposition, and its observance of compacts, so to speak, when once concluded between it and man, he give the name of keeping its oath, which statement also in itself is false. For although rarely, yet sometimes it has been recorded that, after their apparent tameness, they have broken out against men in the most savage manner, and have committed murder, and have been on that account condemned to death, because no longer of any use. And seeing that after this, in order to establish (as he thinks he does) that the stork is more pious than any human being, he adduces the accounts which are narrated regarding that creature's display of filial affection in bringing food to its parents for their support, we have to say in reply, that this is done by the storks, not from a regard to what is proper, nor from reflection, but from a natural instinct; the nature which formed them being desirous to show an instance among the irrational animals which might put men to shame, in the matter of exhibiting their gratitude to their parents. And if Celsus had known how great the difference is between acting in this way from reason, and from an irrational natural impulse, he would not have said that storks are more pious than human beings. But further, Celsus, as still contending for the piety of the irrational creation, quotes the instance of the Arabian bird the phoenix, which after many years repairs to Egypt, and bears thither its parent, when dead and buried in a ball of myrrh, and deposits its body in the Temple of the Sun. Now this story is indeed recorded, and, if it be true, it is possible that it may occur in consequence of some provision of nature; divine providence freely displaying to human beings, by the differences which exist among living things, the variety of constitution which prevails in the world, and which extends even to birds, and in harmony with which He has brought into existence one creature, the only one of its kind, in order that by it men may be led to admire, not the creature, but Him who created it.
In addition to all that he has already said, Celsus subjoins the following: "All things, accordingly, were not made for man, any more than they were made for lions, or eagles, or dolphins, but that this world, as being God's work, might be perfect and entire in all respects. For this reason all things have been adjusted, not with reference to each other, but with regard to their bearing upon the whole. And God takes care of the whole, and (His) providence will never forsake it; and it does not become worse; nor does God after a time bring it back to himself; nor is He angry on account of men any more than on account of apes or flies; nor does He threaten these beings, each one of which has received its appointed lot in its proper place." Let us then briefly reply to these statements. I think, indeed, that I have shown in the preceding pages that all things were created for man, and every rational being, and that it was chiefly for the sake of the rational creature that the creation took place. Celsus, indeed, may say that this was done not more for man than for lions, or the other creatures which he mentions; but we maintain that the Creator did not form these things for lions, or eagles, or dolphins, but all for the sake of the rational creature, and "in order that this world, as being God's work, might be perfect and complete in all things." For to this sentiment we must yield our assent as being well said. And God takes care, not, as Celsus supposes, merely of the whole, but beyond the whole, in a special degree of every rational being. Nor will Providence ever abandon the whole; for although it should become more wicked, owing to the sin of the rational being, which is a portion of the whole, He makes arrangements to purify it, and after a time to bring back the whole to Himself. Moreover, He is not angry with apes or flies; but on human beings, as those who have transgressed the laws of nature, He sends judgments and chastisements, and threatens them by the mouth of the prophets, and by the Saviour who came to visit the whole human race, that those who hear the threatenings may be converted by them, while those who neglect these calls to conversion may deservedly suffer those punishments which it becomes God, in conformity with that will of His which acts for the advantage of the whole, to inflict upon those who need such painful discipline and correction. But as our fourth book has now attained sufficient dimensions, we shall here terminate our discourse. And may God grant, through His Son, who is God the Word, and Wisdom, and Truth, and Righteousness, and everything else which the sacred Scriptures when speaking of God call Him, that we may make a good beginning of the fifth book, to the benefit of our readers, and may bring it to a successful conclusion, with the aid of His word abiding in our soul.
IT is not, my reverend Ambrosius, because we seek after many words—a thing which is forbidden, and in the indulgence of which it is impossible to avoid sin—that we now begin the fifth book of our reply to the treatise of Celsus, but with the endeavour, so far as may be within our power, to leave none of his statements without examination, and especially those in which it might appear to some that he had skilfully assailed us and the Jews. If it were possible, indeed, for me to enter along with my words into the conscience of every one without exception who perUses this work, and to extract each dart which wounds him who is not completely protected with the "whole armour" of God, and apply a rational medicine to cure the wound inflicted by Celsus, which prevents those who listen to his words from remaining "sound in the faith," I would do so. But since it is the work of God alone, in conformity with His own Spirit, and along with that of Christ, to take up His abode invisibly in those persons whom He judges worthy of being visited; so, on the other hand, is our object to try, by means of arguments and treatises, to confirm men in their faith, and to earn the name of "workmen needing not to be ashamed, tightly dividing the word of truth." And there is one thing above all which it appears to us we ought to do, if we would discharge faithfully the task enjoined upon us by you, and that is to overturn to the best of our ability the confident assertions of Celsus. Let us then quote such assertions of his as follow those which we have already refuted (the reader: must decide whether we have done so successfully or not), and let us reply to them. And may God grant that we approach not our subject with our understanding and reason empty and devoid of divine inspiration, that the faith of those whom we wish to aid may not depend upon human wisdom, but that, receiving the "mind" of Christ from His Father, who alone can bestow it, and being strengthened by participating in the word of God, we may pull down "every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God," and the imagination of Celsus, who exalts himself against us, and against Jesus, and also against Moses and the prophets, in order that He who "gave the word to those who published it with great power" may supply us also, and bestow upon us "great power," so that faith in the word and power of God may be implanted in the minds of all who will peruse our work.
We have now, then, to refute that statement of his which runs as follows: "O Jews and Christians, no God or son of a God either came or will come down (to earth). But if you mean that certain angels did so, then what do you call them? Are they gods, or some other race of beings? Some other race of beings (doubtless), and in all probability demons." Now as Celsus here is guilty of repeating himself (for in the preceding pages such assertions have been frequently advanced by him), it is unnecessary to discuss the matter at greater length, seeing what we have already said upon this point may suffice. We shall mention, however, a few considerations out of a greater number, such as we deem in harmony with our former arguments, but which have not altogether the same bearing as they, and by which we shall show that in asserting generally that no God, or son of God, ever descended (among men), he overturns not only the opinions entertained by the majority of mankind regarding the manifestation of Deity, but also what was formerly admitted by himself. For if the general statement, that "no God or son of God has come down or will come down," be truly maintained by Celsus, it is manifest that we have here overthrown the belief in the existence of gods upon the earth who had descended from heaven either to predict the future to mankind or to heal them by means of divine responses; and neither the Pythian Apollo, nor AEsculapius, nor any other among those supposed to have done so, would be a god descended from heaven. He might, indeed, either be a god who had obtained as his lot (the obligation) to dwell on earth for ever, and be thus a fugitive, as it were, from the abode of the gods, or he might be one who had no power to share in the society of the gods in heaven; or else Apollo, and AEsculapius, and those others who are believed to perform acts on earth, would not be gods, but only certain demons, much inferior to those wise men among mankind, who on account of their virtue ascend to the vault of heaven.
But observe how, in his desire to subvert our opinions, he who never acknowledged himself throughout his whole treatise to be an Epicurean, is convicted of being a deserter to that sect. And now is the time for you, (reader), who peruse the works of Celsus, and give your assent to what has been advanced, either to overturn the belief in a God who visits the human race, and exercises a providence over each individual man, or to grant this, and prove the falsity of the assertions of Celsus. If you, then, wholly annihilate providence, you will falsify those assertions of his in which he grants the existence of "God and a providence," in order that you may maintain the truth of your own position; but if, on the other hand, you still admit the existence of providence, because you do not assent to the dictum of Celsus, that "neither has a God nor the son of a God come down nor is to come down to mankind," why not rather carefully ascertain from the statements made regarding Jesus, and the prophecies uttered concerning Him, who it is that we are to consider as having come down to the human race as God, and the Son of God?—whether that Jesus who said and ministered so much, or those who under pretence of oracles and divinations, do not reform the morals of their worshippers, but who have besides apostatized from the pure and holy worship and honour due to the Maker of all things, and who tear away the souls of those who give heed to them from the one only visible and true God, under a pretence of paying honour to a multitude of deities?
But since he says, in the next place, as if the Jews or Christians had answered regarding those who come down to visit the human race, that they were angels: "But if ye say that they are angels, what do you call them?" he continues, "Are they gods, or some other race of beings?" and then again introduces us as if answering, "Some other race of beings, and probably demons,"—let us proceed to notice these remarks. For we indeed acknowledge that angels are "ministering spirits," and we say that "they are sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation;" and that they ascend, bearing the supplications of men, to the purest of the heavenly places in the universe, or even to supercelestial regions purer still; and that they come down from these, conveying to each one, according to his deserts, something enjoined by God to be conferred by them upon those who are to be the recipients of His benefits. Having thus learned to call these beings "angels" from their employments, we find that because they are divine they are sometimes termed "god" in the sacred Scriptures, but not so that we are commanded to honour and worship in place of God those who minister to us, and bear to us His blessings. For every prayer, and supplication, and intercession, and thanksgiving, is to be sent up to the Supreme God through the High Priest, who is above all the angels, the living Word and God. And to the Word Himself shall we also pray and make intercessions, and offer thanksgivings and supplications to Him, if we have the capacity of distinguishing between the proper use and abuse of prayer.
For to invoke angels without having obtained a knowledge of their nature greater than is possessed by men, would be contrary to reason. But, conformably to our hypothesis, let this knowledge of them, which is something wonderful and mysterious, be obtained. Then this knowledge, making known to us their nature, and the offices to which they are severally appointed, will not permit us to pray with confidence to any other than to the Supreme God, who is sufficient for all things, and that through our Saviour the Son of God, who is the Word, and Wisdom, and Truth, and everything else which the writings of God's prophets and the apostles of Jesus entitle Him. And it is enough to secure that the holy angels of God be propitious to us, and that they do all things on our behalf, that our disposition of mind towards God should imitate as far as it is within the power of human nature the example of these holy angels, who again follow the example of their God; and that the conceptions which we entertain of His Son, the Word, so far as attainable by us, should not be opposed to the clearer conceptions of Him which the holy angels possess, but should daily approach these in clearness and distinctness. But because Celsus has not read our holy Scriptures, he gives himself an answer as if it came from us, saying that we "assert that the angels who come down from heaven to confer benefits on mankind are a different race from the gods," and adds that "in all probability they would be called demons by us:" not observing that the name "demons" is not a term of indifferent meaning like that of "men," among whom some are good and some bad, nor yet a term of excellence like that of "the gods," which is applied not to wicked demons, or to statues, or to animals, but (by those who know divine things) to what is truly divine and blessed; whereas the term "demons" is always applied to those wicked powers, freed from the encumbrance of a grosser body, who lead men astray, and fill them with distractions and drag them down from God and supercelestial thoughts to things here below.
He next proceeds to make the following statement about the Jews:—"The first point relating to the Jews which is fitted to excite wonder, is that they should worship the heaven and the angels who dwell therein, and yet pass by and neglect its most venerable and powerful parts, as the sun, the moon, and the other heavenly bodies, both fixed stars and planets, as if it were possible that 'the whole' could be God, and yet its parts not divine; or (as if it were reasonable) to treat with the greatest respect those who are said to appear to such as are in darkness somewhere, blinded by some crooked sorcery, or dreaming dreams through the influence of shadowy spectres, while those who prophesy so clearly and strikingly to all men, by means of whom rain, and heat, and clouds, and thunder (to which they offer worship), and lightnings, and fruits, and all kinds of productiveness, are brought about,—by means of whom God is revealed to them,—the most prominent heralds among those beings that are above,—those that are truly heavenly angels,—are to be regarded as of no account!" In making these statements, Celsus appears to have fallen into confusion, and to have penned them from false ideas of things which he did not understand; for it is patent to all who investigate the practices of the Jews, and compare them with those of the Christians, that the Jews who follow the law, which, speaking in the person of God, says, "Thou shall have no other gods before Me: thou shalt not make unto thee an image, nor a likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters under the earth; thou shall not bow down to them, nor serve them," worship nothing else than the Supreme God, who made the heavens, and all things besides. Now it is evident that those who live according to the law, and worship the Maker of heaven, will not worship the heaven at the same time with God. Moreover, no one who obeys the law of Moses will bow down to the angels who are in heaven; and, in like manner, as they do not bow down to sun, moon, and stars, the host of heaven, they refrain from doing obeisance to heaven and its angels, obeying the law which declares: "Lest thou lift up thine eyes to heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldst be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations."
Having, moreover, assumed that the Jews consider the heaven to be God, he adds that this is absurd; finding fault with those who bow down to the heaven, but not also to the sun, and moon, and stars, saying that the Jews do this, as if it were possible that "the whole" should be God, and its several parts not divine. And he seems to call the heaven "a whole," and sun, moon, and stars its several parts. Now, certainly neither Jews nor Christians call the "heaven" God. Let it be granted, however, that, as he alleges, the heaven is called God by the Jews, and suppose that sun, moon, and stars are parts of "heaven,"—which is by no means true, for neither are the animals and plants upon the earth any portion of it,—how is it true, even according to the opinions of the Greeks, that if God be a whole, His parts also are divine? Certainly they say that the Cosmos taken as the whole is God, the Stoics calling it the First God, the followers of Plato the Second, and some of them the Third. According to these philosophers, then, seeing the whole Cosmos is God, its parts also are divine; so that not only are human beings divine, but the whole of the irrational creation, as being "portions" of the Cosmos; and besides these, the plants also are divine. And if the rivers, and mountains, and seas are portions of the Cosmos, then, since the whole Cosmos is God, are the riven and seas also gods? But even this the Greeks will not assert. Those, however, who preside over rivers and seas (either demons or gods, as they call them), they would term gods. Now from this it follows that the general statement of Celsus, even according to the Greeks, who hold the doctrine of Providence, is false, that if any "whole" be a god, its parts necessarily are divine. But it follows from the doctrine of Celsus, that if the Cosmos be God, all that is in it is divine, being parts of the Cosmos. Now, according to this view, animals, as flies, and gnats, and worms, and every species of serpent, as well as of birds and fishes, will be divine,—an assertion which would not be made even by those who maintain that the Cosmos is God. But the Jews, who live according to the law of Moses, although they may not know how to receive the secret meaning of the law, which is conveyed in obscure language, will not maintain that either the heaven or the angels are God.
As we allege, however, that he has fallen into confusion in consequence of false notions which he has imbibed, come and let us point them out to the best of our ability, and show that although Celsus considers it to be a Jewish custom to bow down to the heaven and the angels in it, such a practice is not at all Jewish, but is in violation of Judaism, as it also is to do obeisance to sun, moon, and stars, as well as images. You will find at least in the book of Jeremiah the words of God censuring by the mouth of the prophet the Jewish people for doing obeisance to such objects, and for sacrificing to the queen of heaven, and to all the host of heaven. The writings of the Christians, moreover, show, in censuring the sins committed among the Jews, that when God abandoned that people on account of certain sins, these sins (of idol-worship) also were committed by them. For it is related in the Acts of the Apostles regarding the Jews, that "God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to Me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which you made to worship them." And in the writings of Paul, who was carefully trained in Jewish customs, and converted afterwards to Christianity by a miraculous appearance of Jesus, the following words may be read in the Epistle to the Colossians: "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind; and not holding the Head, from which all the body by joint and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God." But Celsus, having neither read these verses, nor having learned their contents from any other source, has represented, I know not how, the Jews as not transgressing their law in bowing down to the heavens, and to the angels therein.
And still continuing a little confused, and not taking care to see what was relevant to the matter, he expressed his opinion that the Jews were induced by the incantations employed in jugglery and sorcery (in consequence of which certain phantoms appear, in obedience to the spells employed by the magicians) to bow down to the angels in heaven, not observing that this was contrary to their law, which said to them who practised such observances: "Regard not them which have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God." He ought, therefore, either not to have at all attributed this practice to the Jews, seeing he has observed that they keep their law, and has called them "those who live according to their law;" or if he did attribute it, he ought to have shown that the Jews did this in violation of their code. But again, as they transgress their law who offer worship to those who are said to appear to them who are involved in darkness and blinded by sorcery, and who dream dreams, owing to obscure phantoms presenting themselves; so also do they transgress the law who offer sacrifice to sun, moon, and stars. And there is thus great inconsistency in the same individual saying that the Jews are careful to keep their law by not bowing down to sun, and moon, and stars, while they are not so careful to keep it in the matter of heaven and the angels.
And if it be necessary for us to offer a defence of our refusal to recognise as gods, equally with angels, and sun, and moon, and stars, those who are called by the Greeks "manifest and visible" divinities, we shall answer that the law of Moses knows that these latter have been apportioned by God among all the nations under the heaven, but not amongst those who were selected by God as His chosen people above all the nations of the earth. For it is written in the book of Deuteronomy: "And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldst be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations unto the whole heaven. But the LORD hath taken us, and brought as forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto Him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day." The Hebrew people, then, being called by God a "chosen generation, and a royal priesthood, and a holy nation, and a purchased people," regarding whom it was foretold to Abraham by the voice of the Lord addressed to him, "Look now towards heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be;" and having thus a hope that they would become as the stars of heaven, were not likely to bow down to those objects which they were to resemble as a result of their understanding and observing the law of God. For it was said to them: "The LORD our God hath multiplied us; and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude." In the book of Daniel, also, the following prophecies are found relating to those who are to share in the resurrection: "And at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that has been written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and (those) of the many righteous as the stars for ever and ever," etc. And hence Paul, too, when speaking of the resurrection, says: "And there are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead." It was not therefore consonant to reason that those who had been taught sublimely to ascend above all created things, and to hope for the enjoyment of the most glorious rewards with God on account of their virtuous lives, and who had heard the words, "Ye are the light of I the world," and, "Let your light so shine before men, that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father who is in heaven," and who possessed through practice this brilliant and unfading wisdom, or who had secured even the "very reflection of everlasting light," should be so impressed with the (mere) visible light of sun, and moon, and stars, that, on account of that sensible light of theirs, they should deem themselves (although possessed of so great a rational light of knowledge, and of the true light, and the light of the world, and the light of men) to be somehow inferior to them, and to bow down to them; seeing they ought to be worshipped, if they are to receive worship at all, not for the sake of the sensible light which is admired by the multitude, but because of the rational and true light, if indeed the stars in heaven are rational and virtuous beings, and have been illuminated with the light of knowledge by that wisdom which is the "reflection of everlasting light." For that sensible light of theirs is the work of the Creator of all things, while that rational light is derived perhaps from the principle of free-will within them.
But even this rational light itself ought not to be worshipped by him who beholds and understands the true light, by sharing in which these also are enlightened; nor by him who beholds God, the Father of the true light,- -of whom it has been said, "God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all." Those, indeed, who worship sun, moon, and stars because their light is visible and celestial, would not bow down to a spark of fire or a lamp upon earth, because they see the incomparable superiority of those objects which are deemed worthy of homage to the light of sparks and lamps. So those who understand that God is light, and who have apprehended that the Son of God is "the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world," and who comprehend also how He says, "I am the light of the world," would not rationally offer worship to that which is, as it were, a spark in sun, moon, and stars, in comparison with God, who is light of the true light. Nor is it with a view to depreciate these great works of God's creative power, or to call them, after the fashion of Anaxagoras, "fiery masses," that we thus speak of sun, and moon, and stars; but because we perceive the inexpressible superiority of the divinity of God, and that of His only-begotten Son, which surpasses all other things. And being persuaded that the sun himself, and moon, and stars pray to the Supreme God through His only-begotten Son, we judge it improper to pray to those beings who themselves offer up prayers (to God), seeing even they themselves would prefer that we should send up our requests to the God to whom they pray, rather than send them downwards to themselves, or apportion our power of prayer between God and them. And here I may employ this illustration, as beating upon this point: Our Lord and Saviour, heating Himself on one occasion addressed as "Good Master," referring him who used it to His own Father, said, "Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but one, that is, God the Father." And since it was in accordance with sound reason that this should be said by the Son of His Father's love, as being the image of the goodness of God, why should not the sun say with greater reason to those that bow down to him, Why do you worship me? "for thou wilt worship the LORD thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve;" for it is He whom I and all who are with me serve and worship. And although one may not be so exalted (as the sun), nevertheless let such an one pray to the Word of God (who is able to heal him), and still more to His Father, who also to the righteous of former times "sent His word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions."
God accordingly, in His kindness, condescends to mankind, not in any local sense, but through His providence; while the Son of God, not only (when on earth), but at all times, is with His own disciples, fulfilling the promise, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world." And if a branch cannot bear fruit except it abide in the vine, it is evident that the disciples also of the Word, who are the rational branches of the Word's true vine, cannot produce the fruits of virtue unless they abide in the true vine, the Christ of God, who is with us locally here below upon the earth, and who is with those who cleave to Him in all parts of the world, and is also in all places with those who do not know Him. Another is made manifest by that John who wrote the Gospel, when, speaking in the person of John the Baptist, he said, "There standeth one among you whom ye know not; He it is who cometh after me." And it is absurd, when He who fills heaven and earth, and who said, "Do I not fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD," is with us, and near us (for I believe Him when He says, "I am a God nigh at hand, and not afar off, saith the LORD" to seek to pray to sun or moon, or one of the stars, whose influence does not reach the whole of the world. But, to use the very words of Celsus, let it be granted that "the sun, moon, and stars do foretell rain, and heat, and clouds, and thunders," why, then, if they really do foretell such great things, ought we not rather to do homage to God, whose servant they are in uttering these predictions, and show reverence to Him rather than His prophets? Let them predict, then, the approach of lightnings, and fruits, and all manner of productions, and let all such things be under their administration; yet we shall not on that account worship those who themselves offer worship, as we do not worship even Moses, and those prophets who came from God after him, and who predicted better things than rain, and heat, and clouds, and thunders, and lightnings, and fruits, and all sorts of productions visible to the senses. Nay, even if sun, and moon, and stars were able to prophesy better things than rain, not even then shall we worship them, but the Father of the prophecies which are in them, and the Word of God, their minister. But grant that they are His heralds, and truly messengers of heaven, why, even then ought we not to worship the God whom they only proclaim and announce, rather than those who are the heralds and messengers?
Celsus, moreover, assumes that sun, and moon, and stars are regarded by us as of no account. Now, with regard to these, we acknowledge that they too are "waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God," being for the present subjected to the "vanity" of their material bodies, "by reason of Him who has subjected the same in hope." But if Celsus had read the innumerable other passages where we speak of sun, moon, and stars, and especially these,—"Praise Him, all ye stars, and thou, O light," and, "Praise Him, ye heaven of heavens,"—he would not have said of us that we regard such mighty beings, which "greatly praise" the Lord God, as of no account. Nor did Celsus know the passage: "For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope; because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." And with these words let us terminate our defence against the charge of not worshipping sun, moon, and stars. And let us now bring forward those statements of his which follow, that we may, God willing, address to him in reply such arguments as shall be suggested by the light of truth.
The following, then, are his words: "It is folly on their part to suppose that when God, as if He were a cook, introduces the fire (which is to consume the world), all the rest of the human race will be burnt up, while they alone will remain, not only such of them as are then alive, but also those who are long since dead, which latter will arise from the earth clothed with the self-same flesh (as during life); for such a hope is simply one which might be cherished by worms. For what sort of human soul is that which would still long for a body that had been subject to corruption? Whence, also, this opinion of yours is not shared by some of the Christians, and they pronounce it to be exceedingly vile, and loathsome, and impossible; for what kind of body is that which, after being completely corrupted, can return to its original nature, and to that self- same first condition out of which it fell into dissolution? Being unable to return any answer, they betake themselves to a most absurd refuge, viz., that all things are possible to God. And yet God cannot do things that are disgraceful, nor does He wish to do things that are contrary to His nature; nor, if (in accordance with the wickedness of your own heart) you desired anything that was evil, would God accomplish it; nor must you believe at once that it will be done. For God does not rule the world in order to satisfy inordinate desires, or to allow disorder and confusion, but to govern a nature that is upright and just. For the soul, indeed, He might be able to provide an everlasting life; while dead bodies, on the contrary, are, as Heraclitus observes, more worthless than dung. God, however, neither can nor will declare, contrary to all reason, that the flesh, which is full of those things which it is not even honourable to mention, is to exist for ever. For He is the reason of all things that exist, and therefore can do nothing either contrary to reason or contrary to Himself."
Observe, now, here at the very beginning, how, in ridiculing the doctrine of a conflagration of the world, held by certain of the Greeks who have treated the subject in a philosophic spirit not to be depreciated, he would make us, "representing God, as it were, as a cook, hold the belief in a general conflagration;" not perceiving that, as certain Greeks were of opinion (perhaps having received their information from the ancient nation of the Hebrews), it is a purificatory fire which is brought upon the world, and probably also on each one of those who stand in need of chastisement by the fire and healing at the same time, seeing it burns indeed, but does not consume, those who are without a material body, which needs to be consumed by that fire, and which burns and consumes those who by their actions, words, and thoughts have built up wood, or hay, or stubble, in that which is figuratively termed a "building." And the holy Scriptures say that the Lord will, like a refiner's fire and fullers' soap, visit each one of those who require purification, because of the intermingling in them of a flood of wicked matter proceeding from their evil nature; who need fire, I mean, to refine, as it were, (the dross of) those who are intermingled with copper, and tin, and lead. And he who likes may learn this from the prophet Ezekiel. But that we say that God brings fire upon the world, not like a cook, but like a God, who is the benefactor of them who stand in need of the discipline of fire, will be testified by the prophet Isaiah, in whose writings it is related that a sinful nation was thus addressed: "Because thou hast coals of fire, sit upon them: they shall be to thee a help." Now the Scripture is appropriately adapted to the multitudes of those who are to peruse it, because it speaks obscurely of things that are sad and gloomy, in order to terrify those who cannot by any other means be saved from the flood of their sins, although even then the attentive reader will dearly discover the end that is to be accomplished by these sad and painful punishments upon those who endure them. It is sufficient, however, for the present to quote the words of Isaiah: "For My name's sake will I show Mine anger, and My glory I will bring upon thee, that I may not destroy thee." We have thus been under the necessity of referring in obscure terms to questions not fitted to the capacity of simple believers, who require a simpler instruction in words, that we might not appear to leave unrefuted the accusation of Celsus, that "God introduces the fire (which is to destroy the world), as if He were a cook."
From what has been said, it will be manifest to intelligent hearers how we have to answer the following: "All the rest of the race will be completely burnt up, and they alone will remain." It is not to be wondered at, indeed, if such thoughts have been entertained by those amongst us who are called in Scripture the "foolish things" of the world, and "base things," and "things which are despised," and "things which are not," because "by the foolishness of preaching it pleased God to save them that believe on Him, after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God,"—because such individuals are unable to see distinctly the sense of each particular passage, or unwilling to devote the necessary leisure to the investigation of Scripture, notwithstanding the injunction of Jesus, "Search the Scriptures." The following, moreover, are his ideas regarding the fire which is to be brought upon the world by God, and the punishments which are to befall sinners. And perhaps, as it is appropriate to Children that some things should be addressed to them in a manner befitting their infantile condition, to convert them, as being of very tender age, to a better course of life; so, to those whom the word terms "the foolish things of the world," and "the base," and "the despised," the just and obvious meaning of the passages relating to punishments is suitable, inasmuch as they cannot receive any other mode of conversion than that which is by fear and the presentation of punishment, and thus be saved from the many evils (which would befall them). The Scripture accordingly declares that only those who are unscathed by the fire and the punishments are to remain,—those, viz., whose opinions, and morals, and mind have been purified to the highest degree; while, on the other hand, those of a different nature—those, viz., who, according to their deserts, require the administration of punishment by fire—will be involved in these sufferings with a view to an end which it is suitable for God to bring upon those who have been created in His image, but who have lived in opposition to the will of that nature which is according to His image. And this is our answer to the statement, "All the rest of the race will be completely burnt up, but they alone are to remain."
Then, in the next place, having either himself misunderstood the sacred Scriptures, or those (interpreters) by whom they were not understood, he proceeds to assert that "it is said by us that there will remain at the time of the visitation which is to come upon the world by the fire of purification, not only those who are then alive, but also those who are long ago dead;" not observing that it is with a secret kind of wisdom that it was said by the apostle of Jesus: "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." Now he ought to have noticed what was the meaning of him who uttered these words, as being one who was by no means dead, who made a distinction between himself and those like him and the dead, and who said afterwards, "The dead shall be raised incorruptible," and "we shall be changed." And as a proof that such was the apostle's meaning in writing those words which I have quoted from the first Epistle to the Corinthians, I will quote also from the first to the Thessalonians, in which Paul, as one who is alive and awake, and different from those who are asleep, speaks as follows: "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them who are asleep; for the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God." Then, again, after this, knowing that there were others dead in Christ besides himself and such as he, he subjoins the words, "The dead in Christ shall rise first; then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air."
But since he has ridiculed at great length the doctrine of the resurrection of the flesh, which has been preached in the Churches, and which is more clearly understood by the more intelligent believer; and as it is unnecessary again to quote his words, which have been already adduced, let us, with regard to the problem (as in an apologetic work directed against an alien from the faith, and for the sake of those who are still "children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive"), state and establish to the best of our ability a few points expressly intended for our readers. Neither we, then, nor the holy Scriptures, assert that with the same bodies, without a change to a higher condition, "shall those who were long dead arise from the earth and live again;" for in so speaking, Celsus makes a false charge against us. For we may listen to many passages of Scripture treating of the resurrection in a manner worthy of God, although it may, suffice for the present to quote the language of Paul from the first Epistle to the Corinthians, where he says: "But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die. And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain; but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body." Now, observe how in these words he says that there is sown, "not that body that shall be;" but that of the body which is sown and cast naked into the earth (God giving to each seed its own body), there takes place as it were a resurrection: from the seed that was east into the ground there arising a stalk, e.g., among such plants as the following, viz., the mustard plant, or of a larger tree, as in the olive, or one of the fruit-trees.
God, then, gives to each thing its own body as He pleases: as in the case of plants that are sown, so also in the case of those beings who are, as it were, sown in dying, and who in due time receive, out of what has been "sown," the body assigned by God to each one according to his deserts. And we may hear, moreover, the Scripture teaching us at great length the difference between that which is, as it were, "sown," and that which is, as it were, "raised" from it in these words: "It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." And let him who has the capacity understand the meaning of the words: "As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." And although the apostle wished to conceal the secret meaning of the passage, which was not adapted to the simpler class of believers, and to the understanding of the common people, who are led by their faith to enter on a better course of life, he was nevertheless obliged afterwards to say (in order that we might not misapprehend his meaning), after "Let us bear the image of the heavenly," these words also: "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." Then, knowing that there was a secret and mystical meaning in the passage, as was becoming in one who was leaving, in his Epistles, to those who were to come after him words full of significance, he subjoins the following, "Behold, I show you a mystery;" which is his usual style in introducing matters of a profounder and more mystical nature, and such as are fittingly concealed from the multitude, as is written in the book of Tobit: "It is good to keep close the secret of a king, but honourable to reveal the works of God,"- -in a way consistent with truth and God's glory, and so as to be to the advantage of the multitude. Our hope, then, is not" the hope of worms, nor does our soul long for a body that has seen corruption;" for although it may require a body, for the sake of moving from place to place, yet it understands—as having meditated on the wisdom (that is from above), agreeably to the declaration, "The mouth of the righteous will speak wisdom"—the difference between the "earthly house," in which is the tabernacle of the building that is to be dissolved, and that in which the righteous do groan, being burdened,—not wishing to "put off" the tabernacle, but to be "clothed therewith," that by being clothed upon, mortality might be swallowed up of life. For, in virtue of the whole nature of the body being corruptible, the corruptible tabernacle must put on incorruption; and its other part, being mortal, and becoming liable to the death which follows sin, must put on immortality, in order that, when the corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and the mortal immortality, then shall come to pass what was predicted of old by the prophets,—the annihilation of the "victory" of death (because it had conquered and subjected us to his sway), and of its "sting," with which it stings the imperfectly defended soul, and inflicts upon it the wounds which result from sin.
But since our views regarding the resurrection have, as far as time would permit, been stated in part on the present occasion (for we have systematically examined the subject in greater detail in other parts of our writings); and as now we must by means of sound reasoning refute the fallacies of Celsus, who neither understands the meaning of our Scripture, nor has the capacity of judging that the meaning of our wise men is not to be determined by those individuals who make no profession of anything more than of a (simple) faith in the Christian system, let us show that men, not to be lightly esteemed on account of their reasoning powers and dialectic subtleties, have given expression to very absurd opinions. And if we must sneer at them as contemptible old wives' fables, it is at them rather than at our narrative that we must sneer. The disciples of the Porch assert, that after a period of years there will be a conflagration of the world, and after that an arrangement of things in which everything will be unchanged, as compared with the former arrangement of the world. Those of them, however, who evinced their respect for this doctrine have said that there will be a change, although exceedingly slight, at the end of the cycle, from what prevailed during the preceding. And these men maintain, that in the succeeding cycle the same things will occur, and Socrates will be again the son of Sophroniscus, and a native of Athens; and Phaenarete, being married to Sophroniscus, will again become his mother. And although they do not mention the word "resurrection," they show in reality that Socrates, who derived his origin from seed, will spring from that of Sophroniscus, and will be fashioned in the womb of Phaenarete; and being brought up at Athens, will practise the study of philosophy, as if his former philosophy had arisen again, and were to be in no respect different from what it was before. Anytus and Melitus, too, will arise again as accusers of Socrates, and the Council of Areopagus will condemn him to death! But what is more ridiculous still, is that Socrates will clothe himself with garments not at all different from those which he wore during the former cycle, and will live in the same unchanged state of poverty, and in the same unchanged city of Athens! And Phalaris will again play the tyrant, and his brazen bull will pour forth its bellowings from the voices of victims within, unchanged from those who were condemned in the former cycle! And Alexander of Pherae, too, will again act the tyrant with a cruelty unaltered from the former time, and will condemn to death the same "unchanged" individuals as before. But what need is there to go into detail upon the doctrine held by the Stoic philosophers on such things, and which escapes the ridicule of Celsus, and is perhaps even venerated by him, since he regards Zeno as a wiser man than Jesus?
The disciples of Pythagoras, too, and of Plato, although they appear to hold the incorruptibility of the world, yet fall into similar errors. For as the planets, after certain definite cycles, assume the same positions, and hold the same relations to one another, all things on earth will, they assert, be like what they were at the time when the same state of planetary relations existed in the world. From this view it necessarily follows, that when, after the lapse of a lengthened cycle, the planets come to occupy towards each other the same relations which they occupied in the time of Socrates, Socrates will again be born of the same parents, and suffer the same treatment, being accused by Anytus and Melitus, and condemned by the Council of Areopagus! The learned among the Egyptians, moreover, hold similar views, and yet they are treated with respect, and do not incur the ridicule of Celsus and such as he; while we, who maintain that all things are administered by God in proportion to the relation of the free-will of each individual, and are ever being brought into a better condition, so far as they admit of being so, and who know that the nature of our free-will admits of the occurrence of contingent events (for it is incapable of receiving the wholly unchangeable character of God), yet do not appear to say anything worthy of a testing examination.
Let no one, however, suspect that, in speaking as we do, we belong to those who are indeed called Christians, but who set aside the doctrine of the resurrection as it is taught in Scripture. For these persons cannot, so far as their principles apply, at all establish that the stalk or tree which springs up comes from the grain of wheat, or anything else (which was cast into the ground); whereas we, who believe that that which is "sown" is not "quickened" unless it die, and that there is sown not that body that shall be (for God gives it a body as it pleases Him, raising it in incorruption after it is sown in corruption; and after it is sown in dishonour, raising it in glory; and after it is sown in weakness, raising it in power; and after it is sown a natural body, raising it a spiritual),- -we preserve both the doctrine of the Church of Christ and the grandeur of the divine promise, proving also the possibility of its accomplishment not by mere assertion, but by arguments; knowing that although heaven and earth, and the things that are in them, may pass away, yet His words regarding each individual thing, being, as parts of a whole, or species of a genus, the utterances of Him who was God the Word, who was in the beginning with God, shall by no means pass away. For we desire to listen to Him who said: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away."
We, therefore, do not maintain that the body which has undergone corruption resumes its original nature, any more than the gain of wheat which has decayed returns to its former condition. But we do maintain, that as above the gain of wheat there arises a stalk, so a certain power is implanted in the body, which is not destroyed, and from which the body is raised up in incorruption. The philosophers of the Porch, however, in consequence of the opinions which they hold regarding the unchangeableness of things after a certain cycle, assert that the body, after undergoing complete corruption, will return to its original condition, and will again assume that first nature from which it passed into a state of dissolution, establishing these points, as they think, by irresistible arguments. We, however, do not betake ourselves to a most absurd refuge, saying that with God all things are possible; for we know how to understand this word "all" as not referring either to things that are "non-existent" or that are inconceivable. But we maintain, at the same time, that God cannot do what is disgraceful, since then He would be capable of ceasing to be God; for if He do anything that is disgraceful, He is not God. Since, however, he lays it down as a principle, that "God does not desire what is contrary to nature," we have to make a distinction, and say that if any one asserts that wickedness is contrary to nature, while we maintain that "God does not desire what is contrary to nature,"—either what springs from wickedness or from an irrational principle,—yet, if such things happen according to the word and will of God, we must at once necessarily hold that they are not contrary to nature. Therefore things which are done by God, although they may be, or may appear to some to be incredible, are not contrary to nature. And if we must press the force of words, we would say that, in comparison with what is generally understood as "nature," there are certain things which are beyond its power, which God could at any time do; as, e.g., in raising man above the level of human nature, and causing him to pass into a better and more divine condition, and preserving him in the same, so long as he who is the object of His care shows by his actions that he desires (the continuance of His help).
Moreover, as we have already said that for God to desire anything unbecoming Himself would be destructive of His existence as Deity, we will add that if man, agreeably to the wickedness of his nature, should desire anything that is abominable, God cannot grant it. And now it is from no spirit of contention that we answer the assertions of Celsus; but it is in the spirit of truth that we investigate them, as assenting to his view that "He is the God, not of inordinate desires, nor of error and disorder, but of a nature just and upright," because He is the source of all that is good. And that He is able to provide an eternal life for the soul we acknowledge; and that He possesses not only the "power," but the "will." In view, therefore, of these considerations, we are not at all distressed by the assertion of Heraclitus, adopted by Celsus, that "dead bodies are to be cast out as more worthless than dung;" and yet, with reference even to this, one might say that dung, indeed, ought to be cast out, while the dead bodies of men, on account of the soul by which they were inhabited, especially if it had been virtuous, ought not to be cast out. For, in harmony with those laws which are based upon the principles of equity, bodies are deemed worthy of sepulture, with the honours accorded on such occasions, that no insult, so far as can be helped, may be offered to the soul which dwelt within, by casting forth the body (after the soul has departed) like that of the animals. Let it not then be held, contrary to reason, that it is the will of God to declare that the grain of wheat is not immortal, but the stalk which springs from it, while the body which is sown in corruption is not, but that which is raised by Him in incorruption. But according to Celsus, God Himself is the reason of all things, while according to our view it is His Son, of whom we say in philosophic language, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;" while in our judgment also, God cannot do anything which is contrary to reason, or contrary to Himself.
Let us next notice the statements of Celsus, which follow the preceding, and which are as follow: "As the Jews, then, became a peculiar people, and enacted laws in keeping with the customs of their country, and maintain them up to the present time, and observe a mode of worship which, whatever be its nature, is yet derived from their fathers, they act in these respects like other men, because each nation retains its ancestral customs, whatever they are, if they happen to be established among them. And such an arrangement appears to be advantageous, not only because it has occurred to the mind of other nations to decide some things differently, but also because it is a duty to protect what has been established for the public advantage; and also because, in all probability, the various quarters of the earth were from the beginning allotted to different superintending spirits, and were thus distributed among certain governing powers, and in this manner the administration of the world is carried on. And whatever is done among each nation in this way would be rightly done, wherever it was agreeable to the wishes (of the superintending powers), while it would be an act of impiety to get rid of the institutions established from the beginning in the various places." By these words Celsus shows that the Jews, who were formerly Egyptians, subsequently became a "peculiar people," and enacted laws which they carefully preserve. And not to repeat his statements, which have been already before us, he says that it is advantageous to the Jews to observe their ancestral worship, as other nations carefully attend to theirs. And he further states a deeper reason why it is of advantage to the Jews to cultivate their ancestral customs, in hinting dimly that those to whom was allotted the office of superintending the country which was being legislated for, enacted the laws of each land in co-operation with its legislators. He appears, then, to indicate that both the country of the Jews, and the nation which inhabits it, are superintended by one or more beings, who, whether they were one or more, co-operated with Moses, and enacted the laws of the Jews.
"We must," he says, "observe the laws, not only because it has occurred to the mind of others to decide some things differently, but because it is a duty to protect what has been enacted for the public advantage, and aim because, in all probability, the various quarters of the earth were from the beginning allotted to different superintending spirits, and were distributed among certain governing powers, and in this manner the administration of the world is carried on." Thus Celsus, as if he had forgotten what he had said against the Jews, now includes them in the general eulogy which he passes upon all who observe their ancestral customs, remarking: "And whatever is done among each nation in this way, would be rightly done whenever agreeable to the wishes (of the superintendents) ." And observe here, whether he does not openly, so far as he can, express a wish that the Jew should live in the observance of his own laws, and not depart from them, because he would commit an act of impiety if he apostatized; for his words are: "It would be an act of impiety to get rid of the institutions established from the beginning in the various places." Now I should like to ask him, and those who entertain his views, who it was that distributed the various quarters of the earth from the beginning among the different superintending spirits; and especially, who gave the country of the Jews, and the Jewish people themselves, to the one or more superintendents to whom it was allotted? Was it, as Celsus would say, Jupiter who assigned the Jewish people and their country to a certain spirit or spirits? And was it his wish, to whom they were thus assigned, to enact among them the laws which prevail, or was it against his will that it was done? You will observe that, whatever be his answer, he is in a strait. But if the various quarters of the earth were not allotted by some one being to the various superintending spirits, then each one at random, and without the superintendence of a higher power, divided the earth according to chance; and yet such a view is absurd, and destructive in no small degree of the providence of the God who presides over all things.
Any one, indeed, who chooses, may relate how the various quarters of the earth, being distributed among certain governing powers, are administered by those who superintend them; but let him tell us also how what is done among each nation is done rightly when agreeable to the wishes of the superintendents. Let him, for example, tell us whether the laws of the Scythians, which permit the murder of parents, are right laws; or those of the Persians, which do not forbid the marriages of sons with their mothers, or of daughters with their own fathers. But what need is there for me to make selections from those who have been engaged in the business of enacting laws among the different nations, and to inquire how the laws are rightly enacted among each, according as they please the superintending powers? Let Celsus, however, tell us how it would be an act of impiety to get rid of those ancestral laws which permit the marriages of mothers and daughters; or which pronounce a man happy who puts an end to his life by hanging, or declare that they undergo entire purification who deliver themselves over to the fire, and who terminate their existence by fire; and how it is an act of impiety to do away with those laws which, for example, prevail in the Tauric Chersonese, regarding the offering up of strangers in sacrifice to Diana, or among certain of the Libyan tribes regarding the sacrifice of children to Saturn. Moreover, this inference follows from the dictum of Celsus, that it is an act of impiety on the part of the Jews to do away with those ancestral laws which forbid the worship of any other deity than the Creator of all things. And it will follow, according to his view, that piety is not divine by its own nature, but by a certain (external) arrangement and appointment. For it is an act of piety among certain tribes to worship a crocodile, and to eat what is an object of adoration among other tribes; while, again, with others it is a pious act to worship a calf, and among others, again, to regard the goat as a god. And, in this way, the same individual will be regarded as acting piously according to one set of laws, and impiously according to another; and this is the most absurd result that can be conceived!
It is probable, however, that to such remarks as the above, the answer returned would be, that he was pious who kept the laws of his own country, and not at all chargeable with impiety for the non-observance of those of other lands; and that, again, he who was deemed guilty of impiety among certain nations was not really so, when he worshipped his own gods, agreeably to his country's laws, although he made war against, and even feasted on, those who were regarded as divinities among those nations which possessed laws of an opposite kind. Now, observe here whether these statements do not exhibit the greatest confusion of mind regarding the nature of what is just, and holy, and religious; since there is no accurate definition laid down of these things, nor are they described as having a peculiar character of their own, and stamping as religious those who act according to their injunctions. If, then, religion, and piety, and righteousness belong to those things which are so only by comparison, so that the same act may be both pious and impious, according to different relations and different laws, see whether it will not follow that temperance also is a thing of comparison, and courage as well, and prudence, and the other virtues, than which nothing could be more absurd! What we have said, however, is sufficient for the more general and simple class of answers to the allegations of Celsus. But as we think it likely that some of those who are accustomed to deeper investigation will fall in with this treatise, let us venture to lay down some considerations of a profounder kind, conveying a mystical and secret view respecting the original distribution of the various quarters of the earth among different superintending spirits; and let us prove to the best of our ability, that our doctrine is free from the absurd consequences enumerated above.
It appears to me, indeed, that Celsus has misunderstood some of the deeper reasons relating to the arrangement of terrestrial affairs, some of which are touched upon even in Grecian history, when certain of those who are considered to be gods are introduced as having contended with each other about the possession of Attica; while in the writings of the Greek poets also, some who are called gods are represented as acknowledging that certain places here are preferred by them before others. The history of barbarian nations, moreover, and especially that of Egypt, contains some such allusions to the division of the so-called Egyptian homes, when it states that Athena, who obtained Sais by lot, is the same who also has possession of Attica. And the learned among the Egyptians can enumerate innumerable instances of this kind, although I do not know whether they include the Jews and their country in this division. And now, so far as testimonies outside the word of God bearing on this point are concerned, enough have been adduced for the present. We say, moreover, that our prophet of God and His genuine servant Moses, in his song in the book of Deuteronomy, makes a statement regarding the portioning out of the earth in the following terms: "When the Most High divided the nations, when He dispersed the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the angels of God; and the Lord's portion was His people Jacob, and Israel the cord of His inheritance." And regarding the distribution of the nations, the same Moses, in his work entitled Genesis, thus expresses himself in the style of a historical narrative: "And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech; and it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there." A little further on he continues: "And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men had built. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they have begun to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do. Go to, let Us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. And the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city and the tower. Therefore is the name of it called Confusion; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth." In the treatise of Solomon, moreover, on "Wisdom," and on the events at the time of the confusion of languages, when the division of the earth took place, we find the following regarding Wisdom: "Moreover, the nations in their wicked conspiracy being confounded, she found out the righteous, and preserved him blameless unto God, and kept him strong in his tender compassion towards his son." But on these subjects much, and that of a mystical kind, might be said; in keeping with which is the following: "It is good to keep close the secret of a king,"—in order that the doctrine of the entrance of souls into bodies (not, however, that of the transmigration from one body into another) may not be thrown before the common understanding, nor what is holy given to the dogs, nor pearls be cast before swine. For such a procedure would be impious, being equivalent to a betrayal of the mysterious declarations of God's wisdom. of which it has been well said: "Into a malicious soul wisdom shall not enter, nor dwell in a body subject to sin." It is sufficient, however, to represent in the style of a historic narrative what is intended to convey a secret meaning in the garb of history, that those who have the capacity may work out for themselves all that relates to the subject. (The narrative, then, may be understood as follows.)
All the people upon the earth are to be regarded as having used one divine language, and so long as they lived harmoniously together were preserved in the use of this divine language, and they remained without moving from the east so long as they were imbued with the sentiments of the "light," and of the "reflection" of the eternal light. But when they departed from the east, and began to entertain sentiments alien to those of the east, they found a place in the land of Shinar (which, when interpreted, means "gnashing of teeth," by way of indicating symbolically that they had lost the means of their support), and in it they took up their abode. Then, desiring to gather together material things, and to join to heaven what had no natural affinity for it, that by means of material things they might conspire against such as were immaterial, they said, "Come, let us made bricks, and burn them with fire." Accordingly, when they had hardened and compacted these materials of clay and matter, and had shown their desire to make brick into stone, and clay into bitumen, and by these means to build a city and a tower, the head of which was, at least in their conception, to reach up to the heavens, after the manner of the "high things which exalt themselves against the I knowledge of God," each one was handed over (in proportion to the greater or less departure from the east which had taken place among them, and in proportion to the extent in which bricks had been converted into stones, and clay into bitumen, and building carried on out of these materials) to angels of character more or less severe, and of a nature more or less stern, until they had paid the penalty of their daring deeds; and they were conducted by those angels, who imprinted on each his native language, to the different parts of the earth according to their deserts: some, for example, to a region of burning heat, others to a country which chastises its inhabitants by its cold; others, again, to a land exceedingly difficult of cultivation, others to one less so in degree; while a fifth were brought into a land filled with wild beasts, and a sixth to a country comparatively free of these.
Now, in the next place, if any one has the capacity, let him understand that in what assumes the form of history, and which contains some things that are literally true, while yet it conveys a deeper meaning, those who preserved their original language continued, by reason of their not having migrated from the east, in possession of the east, and of their eastern language. And let him notice, that these alone became the portion of the Lord, and His people who were called Jacob, and Israel the cord of His inheritance; and these alone were governed by a ruler who did not receive those who were placed under him for the purpose of punishment, as was the case with the others. Let him also, who has the capacity to perceive as far as mortals may, observe that in the body politic of those who were assigned to the Lord as His pre-eminent portion, sins were committed, first of all, such as might be forgiven, and of such a nature as not to make the sinner worthy of entire desertion while subsequently they became more numerous though still of a nature to be pardoned. And while remarking that this state of matters continued for a considerable time, and that a remedy was always applied, and that after certain intervals these persons returned to their duty, let him notice that they were given over, in proportion to their transgressions, to those to whom had been assigned the other quarters of the earth; and that, after being at first slightly punished, and having made atonement, they returned, as if they had undergone discipline, to their proper habitations. Let him notice also that afterwards they were delivered over to rulers of a severer character—to Assyrians and Babylonians, as the Scriptures would call them. In the next place, notwithstanding that means of healing were being applied, let him observe that they were still multiplying their transgressions, and that they were on that account dispersed into other regions by the rulers of the nations that oppressed them. And their own ruler intentionally overlooked their oppression at the hands of the rulers of the other nations, in order that he also with good reason, as avenging himself, having obtained power to tear away from the other nations as many as he can, may do so, and enact for them laws, and point out a manner of life agreeably to which they ought to live, that so he may conduct them to the end to which those of the former people were conducted who did not commit sin.
And by this means let those who have the capacity of comprehending truths so profound, learn that he to whom were allotted those who had not formerly sinned is far more powerful than the others, since he has been able to make a selection of individuals from the portion of the whole, and to separate them from those who received them for the purpose of punishment, and to bring them under the influence of laws, and of a mode of life which helps to produce an oblivion of their former transgressions. But, as we have previously observed, these remarks are to be understood as being made by us with a concealed meaning, by way of pointing out the mistakes of those who asserted that "the various quarters of the earth were from the beginning distributed among different superintending spirits, and being allotted among certain governing powers, were administered in this way;" from which statement Celsus took occasion to make the remarks referred to. But since those who wandered away from the east were delivered over, on account of their sins, to "a reprobate mind," and to "vile affections," and to "uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts," in order that, being sated with sin, they might hate it, we shall refuse our assent to the assertion of Celsus, that "because of the superintending spirits distributed among the different parts of the earth, what is done among each nation is rightly done;" for our desire iS to do what is not agreeable to these spirits. For we see that it is a religious act to do away with the customs originally established in the various places by means of laws of a better and more divine character, which were enacted by Jesus, as one possessed of the greatest power, who has rescued us "from the present evil world," and "from the princes of the world that come to nought;" and that it is a mark of irreligion not to throw ourselves at the feet of Him who has manifested Himself to be holier and more powerful than all other rulers, and to whom God said, as the prophets many generations before predicted: "Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession." For He, too, has become the "expectation" of us who from among the heathen have believed upon Him, and upon His Father, who is God over all things.
The remarks which we have made not only answer the statements of Celsus regarding the superintending spirits, but anticipate in some measure what he afterwards brings forward, when he says: "Let the second party come forward; and I shall ask them whence they come, and whom they regard as the originator of their ancestral customs. They will reply, No one, because they spring from the same source as the Jews themselves, and derive their instruction and superintendence from no other quarter, and notwithstanding they have revolted from the Jews." Each one of us, then, is come "in the last days," when one Jesus has visited us, to the "visible mountain of the Lord," the Word that is above every word, and to the "house of God," which is "the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." And we notice how it is built upon "the tops of the mountains," i.e., the predictions of all the prophets, which are its foundations. And this house is exalted above the hills, i.e., those individuals among men who make a profession of superior attainments in wisdom and truth; and all the nations come to it, and the "many nations" go forth, and say to one another, turning to the religion which in the last days has shone forth through Jesus Christ: "Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in them." For the law came forth from the dwellers in Sion, and settled among us as a spiritual law. Moreover, the word of the Lord came forth from that very Jerusalem, that it might be disseminated through all places, and might judge in the midst of the heathen selecting those whom it sees to be submissive and rejecting the disobedient, who are many in number. And to those who inquire of us whence we come, or who is our founder, we reply that we are come, agreeably to the counsels of Jesus, to "cut down our hostile and insolent 'wordy' swords into ploughshares, and to convert into pruning-hooks the spears formerly employed in war." For we no longer take up "sword against nation," nor do we "learn war any more," having become children of peace, for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader, instead of those whom our fathers followed, among whom we were "strangers to the covenant," and having received a law, for which we give thanks to Him that rescued us from the error (of our ways), saying, "Our fathers honoured lying idols, and there is not among them one that causeth it to rain." Our Superintendent, then, and Teacher, having come forth from the Jews, regulates the whole world by the word of His teaching. And having made these remarks by way of anticipation, we have refuted as well as we could the untrue statements of Celsus, by subjoining the appropriate answer.
But, that we may not pass without notice what Celsus has said between these and the preceding paragraphs, let us quote his words: "We might adduce Herodotus as a witness on this point, for he expresses himself as follows: 'For the people of the cities Mares and Apis, who inhabit those parts of Egypt that are adjacent to Libya, and who look upon themselves as Libyans, and not as Egyptians, finding their sacrificial worship oppressive, and wishing not to be excluded from the use of cows' flesh, sent to the oracle of Jupiter Ammon, saying that there was no relationship between them and the Egyptians, that they dwelt outside the Delta, that there was no community of sentiment between them and the Egyptians, and that they wished to be allowed to partake of all kinds of food. But the god would not allow them to do as they desired, saying that that country was a part of Egypt, which was watered by the inundation of the Nile, and that those were Egyptians who dwell to the south of the city of Elephantine, and drink of the river Nile.' Such is the narrative of Herodotus. But," continues Celsus, "Ammon in divine things would not make a worse ambassador than the angels of the Jews, so that there is nothing wrong in each nation observing its established method of worship. Of a truth, we shall find very great differences prevailing among the nations, and yet each seems to deem its own by far the best. Those inhabitants of Ethiopia who dwell in Meroe worship Jupiter and Bacchus alone; the Arabians, Urania and Bacchus only; all the Egyptians, Osiris and Isis; the Saites, Minerva; while the Naucratites have recently classed Serapis among their deities, and the rest according to their respective laws. And some abstain from the flesh of sheep, and others from that of crocodiles; others, again, from that of cows, while they regard swine's flesh with loathing. The Scythians, indeed, regard it as a noble act to banquet upon human beings. Among the Indians, too, there are some who deem themselves discharging a holy duty in eating their fathers, and this is mentioned in a certain passage by Herodotus. For the sake of credibility, I shall again quote his very words, for he writes as follows: 'For if any one were to make this proposal to all men, viz., to bid him select out of all existing laws the best, each would choose, after examination, those of his own country. Men each consider their own laws much the best, and therefore it is not likely than any other than a madman would make these things a subject of ridicule. But that such are the conclusions of all men regarding the laws, may be determined by many other evidences, and especially by the following illustration. Darius, during his reign, having summoned before him those Greeks who happened to be present at the time, inquired of them for how much they would be willing to eat their deceased fathers? their answer was, that for no consideration would they do such a thing. After this, Darius summoned those Indians who are called Callatians. who are in the habit of eating their parents, and asked of them in the presence of these Greeks, who learned what passed through an interpreter, for what amount of money they would undertake to burn their deceased fathers with fire? on which they raised a loud shout, and bade the king say no more.' Such is the way, then, in which these matters are regarded. And Pindar appears to me to be right in saying that 'law' is the king of all things."
The argument of Celsus appears to point by these illustrations to this conclusion: that it is "an obligation incumbent on all men to live according to their country's customs, in which case they will escape censure; whereas the Christians, who have abandoned their native usages, and who are not one nation like the Jews, are to be blamed for giving their adherence to the teaching of Jesus." Let him then tell us whether it is a becoming thing for philosophers, and those who have been taught not to yield to superstition, to abandon their country's customs, so as to eat of those articles of food which are prohibited in their respective cities? or whether this proceeding of theirs is opposed to what is becoming? For if, on account of their philosophy, and the instructions which they have received against superstition, they should eat, in disregard of their native laws, what was interdicted by their fathers, why should the Christians (since the Gospel requires them not to busy themselves about statues and images, or even about any of the created works of God but to ascend on high, and present the soul to the Creator); when acting in a similar manner to the philosophers, be censured for so doing? But if, for the sake of defending the thesis which he has proposed to himself, Celsus, or those who think with him, should say, that even one who had studied philosophy would keep his country's laws, then philosophers in Egypt, for example, would act most ridiculously in avoiding the eating of onions, in order to observe their country's laws, or certain parts of the body, as the head and shoulders, in order not to transgress the traditions of their fathers. And I do not speak of those Egyptians who shudder with fear at the discharge of wind from the body, because if any one of these were to become a philosopher, and still observe the laws of his country, he would be a ridiculous philosopher, acting very unphilosophically. In the same way, then, he who has been led by the Gospel to worship the God of all things, and, from regard to his country's laws, lingers here below among images and statues of men, and does not desire to ascend to the Creator, will resemble those who have indeed learned philosophy, but who are afraid of things which ought to inspire no terrors, and who regard it as an act of impiety to eat of those things which have been enumerated.
But what sort of being is this Ammon of Herodotus, whose words Celsus has quoted, as if by way of demonstrating how each one ought to keep his country's laws? For this Ammon would not allow the people of the cities of Marea and Apis, who inhabit the districts adjacent to Libya, to treat as a matter of indifference the use of cows' flesh, which is a thing not only indifferent in its own nature, but which does not prevent a man from being noble and virtuous. If Ammon, then, forbade the use of cows' flesh, because of the advantage which results from the use of the animal in the cultivation of the ground, and in addition to this, because it is by the female that the breed is increased, the account would possess more plausibility. But now he simply requires that those who drink of the Nile should observe the laws of the Egyptians regarding kine. And hereupon Celsus, taking occasion to pass a jest upon the employment of the angels among the Jews as the ambassadors of God, says that "Ammon did not make a worse ambassador of divine things than did the angels of the Jews," into the meaning of whose words and manifestations he instituted no investigation; otherwise he would have seen, that it is not for oxen that God is concerned, even where He may appear to legislate for them, or for irrational animals, but that what is written for the sake of men, under the appearance of relating to irrational animals, contains certain truths of nature. Celsus, moreover, says that no wrong is committed by any one who wishes to observe the religious worship sanctioned by the laws of his country; and it follows, according to his view, that the Scythians commit no wrong, when, in conformity with their country's laws, they eat human beings. And those Indians who eat their own fathers are considered, according to Celsus, to do a religious, or at least not a wicked act. He adduces, indeed, a statement of Herodotus which favours the principle that each one ought, from a sense of what is becoming, to obey his country's laws; and he appears to approve of the custom of those Indians called Callatians, who in the time of Darius devoured their parents, since, on Darius inquiring for how great a sum of money they would be willing to lay aside this usage, they raised a loud shout, and bade the king say no more.
As there are, then, generally two laws presented to us, the one being the law of nature, of which God would be the legislator, and the other being the written law of cities, it is a proper thing, when the written law is not opposed to that of God, for the citizens not to abandon it under pretext of foreign customs; but when the law of nature, that is, the law of God, commands what is opposed to the written law, observe whether reason will not tell us to bid a long farewell to the written code, and to the desire of its legislators, and to give ourselves up to the legislator God, and to choose a life agreeable to His word, although in doing so it may be necessary to encounter dangers, and countless labours, and even death and dishonour. For when there are some laws in harmony with the will of God, which are opposed to others which are in force in cities, and when it is impracticable to please God (and those who administer laws of the kind referred to), it would be absurd to contemn those acts by means of which we may please the Creator of all things, and to select those by which we shall become displeasing to God, though we may satisfy unholy laws, and those who love them. But since it is reasonable in other matters to prefer the law of nature, which is the law of God, before the written law, which has been enacted by men in a spirit of opposition to the law of God, why should we not do this still more in the case of those laws which relate to God? Neither shall we, like the Ethiopians who inhabit the parts about Meroe, worship, as is their pleasure, Jupiter and Bacchus only; nor shall we at all reverence Ethiopian gods in the Ethiopian manner; nor, like the Arabians, shall we regard Urania and Bacchus alone as divinities; nor in any degree at all deities in which the difference of sex has been a ground of distinction (as among the Arabians, who worship Urania as a female, and Bacchus as a male deity); nor shall we, like all the Egyptians, regard Osiris and Isis as gods; nor shall we enumerate Athena among these, as the Saites are pleased to do. And if to the ancient inhabitants of Naucratis it seemed good to worship other divinities, while their modern descendants have begun quite recently to pay reverence to Scrapis, who never was a god at all, we shall not on that account assert that a new being who was not formerly a god, nor at all known to men, is a deity. For the Son of God, "the First-born of all creation," although He seemed recently to have become incarnate, is not by any means on that account recent. For the holy Scriptures know Him to be the most ancient of all the works of creation; for it was to Him that God said regarding the creation of man, "Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness."
I wish, however, to show how Celsus asserts without any good reason, that each one reveres his domestic and native institutions. For he declares that "those Ethiopians who inhabit Meroe know only of two gods, Jupiter and Bacchus, and worship these alone; and that the Arabians also know only of two, viz., Bacchus, who is also an Ethiopian deity, and Urania, whose worship is confined to them." According to his account, neither do the Ethiopians worship Urania, nor the Arabians Jupiter. If, then, an Ethiopian were from any accident to fall into the hands of the Arabians, and were to be judged guilty of impiety because he did not worship Urania, and for this reason should incur the danger of death, would it be proper for the Ethiopian to die, or to act contrary to his country's laws, and do obeisance to Urania? Now, if it would be proper for him to act contrary to the laws of his country, he will do what is not right, so far as the language of Celsus is any standard; while, if he should be led away to death, let him show the reasonableness of selecting such a fate. I know not whether, if the Ethiopian doctrine taught men to philosophize on the immortality of the soul, and the honour which is paid to religion, they would reverence those as deities who are deemed to be such by the laws of the country. A similar illustration may be employed in the case of the Arabians, if from any accident they happened to visit the Ethiopians about Meroe. For, having been taught to worship Urania and Bacchus alone, they will not worship Jupiter along with the Ethiopians; and if, adjudged guilty of impiety, they should be led away to death, let Celsus tell us what it would be reasonable on their part to do. And with regard to the fables which relate to Osiris and Isis, it is superfluous and out of place at present to enumerate them. For although an allegorical meaning may be given to the fables, they will nevertheless teach us to offer divine worship to cold water, and to the earth, which is subject to men, and all the animal creation. For in this way, I presume, they refer Osiris to water, and Isis to earth; while with regard to Serapis the accounts are numerous and conflicting, to the effect that very recently he appeared in public, agreeably to certain juggling tricks performed at the desire of Ptolemy, who wished to show to the people of Alexandria as it were a visible god. And we have read in the writings of Numenius the Pythagorean regarding his formation, that he partakes of the essence of all the animals and plants that are under the control of nature, that he may appear to have been fashioned into a god, not by the makers of images alone, with the aid of profane mysteries, and juggling tricks employed to invoke demons, but also by magicians and sorcerers, and those demons who are bewitched by their incantations.
We must therefore inquire what may be fittingly eaten or not by the rational and gentle animal, which acts always in conformity with reason; and not worship at random, sheep, or goats, or kine; to abstain from which is an act of moderation, for much advantage is derived by men from these animals. Whereas, is it not the most foolish of all things to spare crocodiles, and to treat them as sacred to some fabulous divinity or other? For it is a mark of exceeding stupidity to spare those animals which do not spare us, and to bestow care on those which make a prey of human beings. But Celsus approves of those who, in keeping with the laws of their country, worship and tend crocodiles, and not a word does he say against them, while the Christians appear deserving of censure, who have been taught to loath evil, and to turn away from wicked works, and to reverence and honour virtue as being generated by God, and as being His Son. For we must not, on account of their feminine name and nature, regard wisdom and righteousness as females; for these things are in our view the Son of God, as His genuine disciple has shown, when he said of Him, "Who of God is made to us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." And although we may call Him a "second" God, let men know that by the term "second God" we mean nothing else than a virtue capable of including all other virtues, and a reason capable of containing all reason whatsoever which exists in all things, which have arisen naturally, directly, and for the general advantage, and which "reason," we say, dwelt in the soul of Jesus, and was united to Him in a degree far above all other souls, seeing He alone was enabled completely to receive the highest share in the absolute reason, and the absolute wisdom, and the absolute righteousness.
But since, after Celsus had spoken to the above effect of the different kinds of laws, he adds the following remark, "Pindar appears to me to be correct in saying that law is king of all things," let us proceed to discuss this assertion. What law do you mean to say, good sir, is "king of all things?" If you mean those which exist in the various cities, then such an assertion is not true. For all men are not governed by the same law. You ought to have said that "laws are kings of all men," for in every nation some law is king of all. But if you mean that which is law in the proper sense, then it is this which is by nature "king of all things;" although there are some individuals who, having like robbers abandoned the law, deny its validity, and live lives of violence and injustice. We Christians, then, who have come to the knowledge of the law which is by nature "king of all things," and which is the same with the law of God, endeavour to regulate our lives by its prescriptions, having bidden a long farewell to those of an unholy kind.
Let us notice the charges which are next advanced by Celsus, in which there is exceedingly little that has reference to the Christians, as most of them refer to the Jews. His words are: "If, then, in these respects the Jews were carefully to preserve their own law, they are not to be blamed for so doing, but those persons rather who have forsaken their own usages, and adopted those of the Jews. And if they pride themselves on it, as being possessed of superior wisdom, and keep aloof from intercourse with others, as not being equally pure with themselves, they have already heard that their doctrine concerning heaven is not peculiar to them, but, to pass by all others, is one which has long ago been received by the Persians, as Herodotus somewhere mentions. 'For they have a custom,' he says, 'of going up to the tops of the mountains, and of offering sacrifices to Jupiter, giving the name of Jupiter to the whole circle of the heavens.' And I think," continues Celsus, "that it makes no difference whether you call the highest being Zeus, or Zen, or Adonai, or Sabaoth, or Ammoun like the Egyptians, or Pappaeus like the Scythians. Nor would they be deemed at all holier than others in this respect, that they observe the rite of circumcision, for this was done by the Egyptians and Colchians before them; nor because they abstain from swine's flesh, for the Egyptians practised abstinence not only from it, but from the flesh of goats, and sheep, and oxen, and fishes as well; while Pythagoras and his disciples do not eat beans, nor anything that contains life. It is not probable, however, that they enjoy God's favour, or are loved by Him differently from others, or that angels were sent from heaven to them alone, as if they had had allotted to them 'some region of the blessed,' for we see both themselves and the country of which they were deemed worthy. Let this band, then, take its departure, after paying the penalty of its vaunting, not having a knowledge of the great God, but being led away and deceived by the artifices of Moses, having become his pupil to no good end."
It is evident that, by the preceding remarks, Celsus charges the Jews with falsely giving themselves out as the chosen portion of the Supreme God above all other nations. And he accuses them of boasting, because they gave out that they knew the great God, although they did not really know Him, but were led away by the artifices of Moses, and were deceived by him, and became his disciples to no good end. Now we have in the preceding pages already spoken in part of the venerable and distinguished polity of the Jews, when it existed amongst them as a symbol of the city of God, and of His temple, and of the sacrificial worship offered in it and at the altar of sacrifice. But if any one were to turn his attention to the meaning of the legislator, and to the constitution which he established, and were to examine the various points relating to him, and compare them with the present method of worship among other nations, there are none which he would admire to a greater degree; because, so far as can be accomplished among mortals, everything that was not of advantage to the human race was withheld from them, and only those things which are useful bestowed. And for this reason they had neither gymnastic contests, nor scenic representations, nor horse-races; nor were there among them women who sold their beauty to any one who wished to have sexual intercourse without offspring, and to cast contempt upon the nature of human generation. And what an advantage was it to be taught from their tender years to ascend above all visible nature, and to hold the belief that God was not fixed anywhere within its limits, but to look for Him on high, and beyond the sphere of all bodily substance! And how great was the advantage which they enjoyed in being instructed almost from their birth, and as soon as they could speak, in the immortality of the soul, and in the existence of courts of justice under the earth, and in the rewards provided for those who have lived righteous lives! These truths, indeed, were proclaimed in the veil of fable to children, and to those whose views of things were childish; while to those who were already occupied in investigating the truth, and desirous of making progress therein, these fables, so to speak, were transfigured into the truths which were concealed within them. And I consider that it was in a manner worthy of their name as the "portion of God" that they despised all kinds of divination, as that which bewitches men to no purpose, and which proceeds rather from wicked demons than from anything of a better nature; and sought the knowledge of future events in the souls of those who, owing to their high degree of purity, received the spirit of the Supreme God.
But what need is there to point out how agreeable to sound reason, and unattended with injury either to master or slave, was the law that one of the same faith should not be allowed to continue in slavery more than six years? The Jews, then, cannot be said to preserve their own law in the same points with the other nations. For it would be censurable in them, and would involve a charge of insensibility to the superiority of their law, if they were to believe that they had been legislated for in the same way as the other nations among the heathen. And although Celsus will not admit it, the Jews nevertheless are possessed of a wisdom superior not only to that of the multitude, but also of those who have the appearance of philosophers; because those who engage in philosophical pursuits, after the utterance of the most venerable philosophical sentiments, fall away into the worship of idols and demons, whereas the very lowest Jew directs his look to the Supreme God alone; and they do well, indeed, so far as this point is concerned, to pride themselves thereon, and to keep aloof from the society of others as accursed and impious. And would that they had not sinned, and transgressed the law, and slain the prophets in former times, and in these latter days conspired against Jesus, that we might be in possession of a pattern of a heavenly city which even Plato would have sought to describe; although I doubt whether he could have accomplished as much as was done by Moses and those who followed him, who nourished a "chosen generation," and "a holy nation," dedicated to God, with words free from all superstition.
But as Celsus would compare the venerable customs of the Jews with the laws of certain nations, let us proceed to look at them. He is of opinion, accordingly, that there is no difference between the doctrine regarding "heaven" and that regarding "God;" and he says that "the Persians, like the Jews, offer sacrifices to Jupiter upon the tops of the mountains,"—not observing that, as the Jews were acquainted with one God, so they had only one holy house of prayer, and one altar of whole burnt-offerings, and one censer for incense, and one high priest of God. The Jews, then, had nothing in common with the Persians, who ascend the summits of their mountains, which are many in number, and offer up sacrifices which have nothing in common with those which are regulated by the Mosaic code,—in conformity to which the Jewish priests "served unto the example and shadow of heavenly things," explaining enigmatically the object of the law regarding the sacrifices, and the things of which these sacrifices were the symbols. The Persians therefore may call the "whole circle of heaven" Jupiter; but we maintain that "the heaven" is neither Jupiter nor God, as we indeed know that certain beings of a class inferior to God have ascended above the heavens and all visible nature: and in this sense we understand the words, "Praise God, ye heaven of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens: let them praise the name of the LORD."
As Celsus, however, is of opinion that it matters nothing whether the highest being be called Jupiter, or Zen, or Adonai, or Sabaoth, or Ammoun (as the Egyptians term him), or Pappaeus (as the Scythians entitle him), let us discuss the point for a little, reminding the reader at the same time of what has been said above upon this question, when the language of Celsus led us to consider the subject. And now we maintain that the nature of names is not, as Aristotle supposes, an enactment of those who impose them. For the languages which are prevalent among men do not derive their origin from men, as is evident to those who are able to ascertain the nature of the charms which are appropriated by the inventors of the languages differently, according to the various tongues, and to the varying pronunciations of the names, on which we have spoken briefly in the preceding pages, remarking that when those names which in a certain language were possessed of a natural power were translated into another, they were no longer able to accomplish what they did before when uttered in their native tongues. And the same peculiarity is found to apply to men; for if we were to translate the name of one who was called from his birth by a certain appellation in the Greek language into the Egyptian or Roman, or any other tongue, we could not make him do or suffer the same things which he would have done or suffered under the appellation first bestowed upon him. Nay, even if we translated into the Greek language the name of an individual who had been originally invoked in the Roman tongue, we could not produce the result which the incantation professed itself capable of accomplishing had it preserved the name first conferred upon him. And if these statements are true when spoken of the names of men, what are we to think of those which are transferred, for any cause whatever, to the Deity? For example, something is transferred from the name Abraham when translated into Greek, and something is signified by that of Isaac, and also by that of Jacob; and accordingly, if any one, either in an invocation or in swearing an oath, were to use the expression, "the God of Abraham," and "the God of Isaac," and "the God of Jacob," he would produce certain effects, either owing to the nature of these names or to their powers, since even demons are vanquiShed and become submissive to him who pronounces these names; whereas if we say, "the god of the chosen father of the echo, and the god of laughter, and the god of him who strikes with the heel," the mention of the name is attended with no result, as is the case with other names possessed of no power. And in the same way, if we translate the word "Israel" into Greek or any other language, we shall produce no result; but if we retain it as it is, and join it to those expressions to which such as are skilled in these matters think it ought to be united, there would then follow some result from the pronunciation of the word which would accord with the professions of those who employ such invocations. And we may say the same also of the pronunciation of "Sabaoth," a word which is frequently employed in incantations; for if we translate the term into "Lord of hosts," or "Lord of armies," or "Almighty" (different acceptation of it having been proposed by the interpreters), we shall accomplish nothing; whereas if we retain the original pronunciation, we shall, as those who are skilled in such matters maintain, produce some effect. And the same observation holds good of Adonai. If, then, neither "Sabaoth" nor "Adonai," when rendered into what appears to be their meaning in the Greek tongue, can accomplish anything, how much less would be the result among those who regard it as a matter of indifference whether the highest being be called Jupiter, or Zen, or Adonai, or Sabaoth!
It was for these and similar mysterious reasons, with which Moses and the prophets were acquainted, that they forbade the name of other gods to be pronounced by him who bethought himself of praying to the one Supreme God alone, or to be remembered by a heart which had been taught to be pure from all foolish thoughts and words. And for these reasons we should prefer to endure all manner of suffering rather than acknowledge Jupiter to be God. For we do not consider Jupiter and Sabaoth to be the same, nor Jupiter to be at all divine, but that some demon, unfriendly to men and to the true God, rejoices under this title. And although the Egyptians were to hold Ammon before us under threat of death, we would rather die than address him as God, it being a name used in all probability in certain Egyptian incantations in which this demon is invoked. And although the Scythians may call Pappaeus the supreme God, vet we will not yield our assent to this; granting, indeed, that there is a Supreme Deity, although we do not give the name Pappaeus to Him as His proper title, but regard it as one which is agreeable to the demon to whom was allotted the desert of Scythia, with its people and its language. He, however, who gives God His title in the Scythian tongue, or in the Egyptian or in any language in which he has been brought up, will not be guilty of sin.
Now the reason why circumcision is practised among the Jews is not the same as that which explains its existence among the Egyptians and Colchians, and therefore it is not to be considered the same circumcision. And as he who sacrifices does not sacrifice to the same god, although he appears to perform the rite of sacrifice in a similar manner, and he who offers up prayer does not pray to the same divinity, although he asks the same things in his supplication; so, in the same way, if one performs the rite of circumcision, it by no means follows that it is not a different act from the circumcision performed upon another. For the purpose, and the law, and the wish of him who performs the rite, place the act in a different category. But that the whole subject may be still better understood, we have to remark that the term for "righteousness" is the same among all the Greeks; but righteousness is shown to be one thing according to the view of Epicurus; and another according to the Stoics, who deny the threefold division of the soul; and a different thing again according to the followers of Plato, who hold that righteousness is the proper business of the parts of the soul. And so also the "courage" of Epicures is one thing, who would undergo some labours in order to escape from a greater number; and a different thing that of the philosopher of the Porch, who would choose all virtue for its own sake; and a different thing still that of Plato, who maintains that virtue itself is the act of the irascible part of the soul, and who assigns to it a place about the breast. And so circumcision will be a different thing according to the varying opinions of those who undergo it. But on such a subject it is unnecessary to speak on this occasion in a treatise like the present; for whoever desires to see what led us to the subject, can read what we have said upon it in the Epistle of Paul to the Romans.
Although the Jews, then, pride themselves on circumcision, they will separate it not only from that of the Colchians and Egyptians, but also from that of the Arabian Ishmaelites; and yet the latter was derived from their ancestor Abraham, the father of Ishmael, who underwent the rite of circumcision along with his father. The Jews say that the circumcision performed on the eighth day is the principal circumcision, and that which is performed according to circumstances is different; and probably it was performed on account of the hostility of some angel towards the Jewish nation, who had the power to injure such of them as were not circumcised, but was powerless against those who had undergone the rite. This may be said to appear from what is written in the book of Exodus, where the angel before the circumcision of Eliezer was able to work against Moses, but could do nothing after his son was circumcised. And when Zipporah had learned this, she took a pebble and circumcised her child, and is recorded, according to the reading of the common copies, to have said, "The blood of my child's circumcision is stayed," but according to the Hebrew text, "A bloody husband art thou to me." For she had known the story about a certain angel having power before the shedding of the blood, but who became powerless through the blood of circumcision. For which reason the words were addressed to Moses, "A bloody husband art thou to me." But these things, which appear rather of a curious nature, and not level to the comprehension of the multitude, I have ventured to treat at such length; and now I shall only add, as becomes a Christian, one thing more, and shall then pass on to what follows. I For this angel might have had power, I think, over those of the people who were not circumcised, and generally over all who worshipped only the Creator; and this power lasted so long as Jesus had not assumed a human body. But when He had done this, and had undergone the rite of circumcision in His own person, all the power of the angel over those who practise the same worship, but are not circumcised, was abolished; for Jesus reduced it to nought by (the power of) His unspeakable divinity. And therefore His disciples are forbidden to circumcise themselves, and are reminded (by the apostle): "If ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing."
But neither do the Jews pride themselves upon abstaining from swine's flesh, as if it were some great thing; but upon their having ascertained the nature of clean and unclean animals, and the cause of the distinction, and of swine being classed among the unclean. And these distinctions were signs of certain things until the advent of Jesus; after whose coming it was said to His disciple, who did not yet comprehend the doctrine concerning these matters, but who said, "Nothing that is common or unclean hath entered into my mouth," "What God hath cleansed, call not thou common." It therefore in no way affects either the Jews or us that the Egyptian priests abstain not only from the flesh of swine, but also from that of goats, and sheep, and oxen, and fish. But since it is not that "which entereth into the mouth that defiles a man," and since "meat does not commend us to God," we do not set great store on refraining from eating, nor yet are we induced to eat from a gluttonous appetite. And therefore, so far as we are concerned, the followers of Pythagoras, who abstain from all things that contain life may do as they please; only observe the different reason for abstaining from things that have life on the part of the Pythagoreans and our ascetics. For the former abstain on account of the fable about the transmigration of souls, as the poet says: - -
"And some one, lifting up his beloved son,
Will slay him after prayer; O how foolish he!"
We, however, when we do abstain, do so because "we keep under our body, and bring it into subjection," and desire "to mortify our members that are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence;" and we use every effort to "mortify the deeds of the flesh."
Celsus, still expressing his opinion regarding the Jews, says: "It is not probable that they are in great favour with God, or are regarded by Him with more affection than others, or that angels are sent by Him to them alone, as if to them had been allotted some region of the blessed. For we may see both the people themselves, and the country of which they were deemed worthy." We shall refute this, by remarking that it is evident that this nation was in great favour with God, from the fact that the God who presides over all things was called the God of the Hebrews, even by those who were aliens to our faith. And because they were in favour with God, they were not abandoned by Him; but although few in number, they continued to enjoy the protection of the divine power, so that in the reign of Alexander of Macedon they sustained no injury from him, although they refused, on account of certain covenants and oaths, to take up arms against Darius. They say that on that occasion the Jewish high priest, clothed in his sacred robe, received obeisance from Alexander, who declared that he had beheld an individual arrayed in this fashion, who announced to him in his sleep that he was to be the subjugator of the whole of Asia. Accordingly, we Christians maintain that "it was the fortune of that people in a remarkable degree to enjoy God's favour, and to be loved by Him in a way different from others;" but that this economy of things and this divine favour were transferred to us, after Jesus had conveyed the power which had been manifested among the Jews to those who had become converts to Him from among the heathen. And for this reason, although the Romans desired to perpetrate many atrocities against the Christians, in order to ensure their extermination, they were unsuccessful; for there was a divine hand which fought on their behalf, and whose desire it was that the word of God should spread from one comer of the land of Judea throughout the whole human race.
But seeing that we have answered to the best of our ability the charges brought by Celsus against the Jews and their doctrine, let us proceed to consider what follows, and to prove that it is no empty boast on our part when we make. a profession of knowing the great God, and that we have not been led away by any juggling tricks of Moses (as Celsus imagines), or even of our own Saviour Jesus; but that for a good end we listen to the God who speaks in Moses, and have accepted Jesus, whom he testifies to be God, as the Son of God, in hope of receiving the best rewards if we regulate our lives according to His word. And we shall willingly pass over what we have already stated by way of anticipation on the points, "whence we came and who is our leader, and what law proceeded from Him." And if Celsus would maintain that there is no difference between us and the Egyptians, who worship the goat, or the ram, or the crocodile, or the ox, or the river- horse, or the dog-faced baboon, or the cat, he can ascertain if it be so, and so may any other who thinks alike on the subject. We, however, have to the best of our ability defended ourselves at great length in the preceding pages on the subject of the honour which we render to our Jesus, pointing out that we have found the better part; and that in showing that the truth which is contained in the teaching of Jesus Christ is pure and unmixed with error, we are not commending ourselves, but our Teacher, to whom testimony was borne through many witnesses by the Supreme God and the prophetic writings among the Jews, and by the very clearness of the case itself, for it is demonstrated that He could not have accomplished such mighty works without the divine help.
But the statement of Celsus which we wish to examine at present is the following: "Let us then pass over the refutations which might be adduced against the claims of their teacher, and let him be regarded as really an angel. But is he the first and only one who came (to men), or were there others before him? If they should say that he is the only one, they would be convicted of telling lies against themselves. For they assert that on many occasions others came, and sixty or seventy of them together, and that these became wicked, and were cast under the earth and punished with chains, and that from this source originate the warm springs, which are their tears; and, moreover, that there came an angel to the tomb of this said being—according to some, indeed, one, but according to others, two— who answered the women that he had arisen. For the Son of God could not himself, as it seems, open the tomb, but needed the help of another to roll away the stone. And again, on account of the pregnancy of Mary, there came an angel to the carpenter, and once more another angel, in order that they might take up the young Child and flee away (into Egypt). But what need is there to particularize everything, or to count up the number of angels said to have been sent to Moses, and others amongst them? If, then, others were sent, it is manifest that he also came from the same God. But he may be supposed to have the appearance of announcing something of greater importance (than those who preceded him), as if the Jews had been committing sin, or corrupting their religion, or doing deeds of impiety; for these things are obscurely hinted at."
The preceding remarks might suffice as an answer to the charges of Celsus, so far as regards those points in which our Saviour Jesus Christ is made the subject of special investigation. But that we may avoid the appearance of intentionally passing over any portion of his work, as if we were unable to meet him, let us, even at the risk of being tautological (since we are challenged to this by Celsus), endeavour as far as we can with all due brevity to continue our discourse, since perhaps something either more precise or more novel may occur to us upon the several topics. He says, indeed, that "he has omitted the refutations which have been adduced against the claims which Christians advance on behalf of their teacher," although he has not omitted anything which he was able to bring forward, as is manifest from his previous language, but makes this statement only as an empty rhetorical device. That we are not refuted, however, on the subject of our great Saviour, although the accuser may appear to refute us, will be manifest to those who peruse in a spirit of truth-loving investigation all that is predicted and recorded of Him. And, in the next place, since he considers that he makes a concession in saying of the Saviour, "Let him appear to be really an angel," we reply that we do not accept of such a concession from Celsus; but we look to the work of Him who came to visit the whole human race in His word and teaching, as each one of His adherents was capable of receiving Him. And this was the work of one who, as the prophecy regarding Him said, was not simply an angel, but the "Angel of the great counsel:" for He announced to men the great counsel of the God and Father of all things regarding them, (saying) of those who yield themselves up to a life of pure religion, that they ascend by means of their great deeds to God; but of those who do not adhere to Him, that they place themselves at a distance from God, and journey on to destruction through their unbelief of Him. He then continues: "If even the angel came to men, is he the first and only one who came, or did others come on former occasions?" And he thinks he can meet either of these dilemmas at great length, although there is not a single real Christian who asserts that Christ was the only being that visited the human race. For, as Celsus says, "If they should say the only one," there are others who appeared to different individuals.
In the next place, he proceeds to answer himself as he thinks fit in the following terms: "And so he is not the only one who is recorded to have visited the human race, as even those who, under pretext of teaching in the name of Jesus, have apostatized from the Creator as an inferior being, and have given in their adherence to one who is a superior God and father of him who visited (the world), assert that before him certain beings came from the Creator to visit the human race." Now, as it is in the spirit of truth that we investigate all that relates to the subject, we shall remark that it is asserted by Apelles, the celebrated disciple of Marcion, who became the founder of a certain sect, and who treated the writings of the Jews as fabulous, that Jesus is the only one that came to visit the human race. Even against him, then, who maintained that Jesus was the only one that came from God to men, it would be in vain for Celsus to quote the statements regarding the descent of other angels, seeing Apelles discredits, as we have already mentioned, the miraculous narratives of the Jewish Scriptures; and much more will he decline to admit what Celsus has adduced, from not understanding the contents of the book of Enoch. No one, then, convicts us of falsehood, or of making contradictory assertions, as if we maintained both that our Saviour was the only being that ever came to men, and yet that many others came on different occasions. And in a most confused manner, moreover, does be adduce, when examining the subject of the visits of angels to men, what he has derived, without seeing its meaning, from the contents of the book of Enoch; for he does not appear to have read the passages in question, nor to have been aware that the books which bear the name Enoch do not at all circulate in the Churches as divine, although it is from this source that he might be supposed to have obtained the statement, that "sixty or seventy angels descended at the same time, who fell into a state of wickedness."
But, that we may grant to him in a spirit of candour what he has not discovered in the contents of the book of Genesis, that "the sons of God, seeing the daughters of men, that they were fair, took to them wives of all whom they chose," we shall nevertheless even on this point persuade those who are capable of understanding the meaning of the prophet, that even before us there was one who referred this narrative to the doctrine regarding souls, which became possessed with a desire for the corporeal life of men, and this in metaphorical language, he said, was termed "daughters of men." But whatever may be the meaning of the "sons of God desiring to possess the daughters of men," it will not at all contribute to prove that Jesus was not the only one who visited mankind as an angel, and who manifestly became the Saviour and benefactor of all those who depart from the flood of wickedness. Then, mixing up and confusing whatever he had at any time heard, or had anywhere found written—whether held to be of divine origin among Christians or not—he adds: "The sixty or seventy who descended together were cast under the earth, and were punished with chains." And he quotes (as from the book of Enoch, but without naming it) the following: "And hence it is that the tears of these angels are warm springs,"—a thing neither mentioned nor heard of in the Churches of God! For no one was ever so foolish as to materialize into human tears those which were shed by the angels who had come down from heaven. And if it were right to pass a jest upon what is advanced against us in a serious spirit by Celsus, we might observe that no one would ever have said that hot springs, the greater part of which are fresh water, were the tears of the angels, since tears are saltish in their nature, unless indeed the angels, in the opinion of Celsus, shed tears which are fresh.
Proceeding immediately after to mix up and compare with one another things that are dissimilar, and incapable of being united, he subjoins to his statement regarding the sixty or seventy angels who came down from heaven, and who, according to him, shed fountains of warm water for tears, the following: "It is related also that there came to the tomb of Jesus himself, according to some, two angels, according to others, one;" having failed to notice, I think, that Matthew and Mark speak of one, and Luke and John of two, which statements are not contradictory. For they who mention "one," say that it was he who rolled away the stone from the sepulchre; while they who mention "two," refer to those who appeared in shining raiment to the women that repaired to the sepulchre, or who were seen within sitting in white garments. Each of these occurrences might now be demonstrated to have actually taken place, and to be indicative of a figurative meaning existing in these "phenomena," (and intelligible) to those who were prepared to behold the resurrection of the Word. Such a task, however, does not belong to our present purpose, but rather to an exposition of the Gospel.
Now, that miraculous appearances have sometimes been witnessed by human beings, is related by the Greeks; and not only by those of them who might be suspected of composing fabulous narratives, but also by those who have given every evidence of being genuine philosophers, and of having related with perfect truth what had happened to them. Accounts of this kind we have read in the writings of Chrysippus of Soli, and also some things of the same kind relating to Pythagoras; as well as in some of the more recent writers who lived a very short time ago, as in the treatise of Plutarch of Chaeronea "on the Soul," and in the second book of the work of Numenius the Pythagorean on the "Incorruptibility of the Soul." Now, when such accounts are related by the Greeks, and especially by the philosophers among them, they are not to be received with mockery and ridicule, nor to be regarded as fictions and fables; but when those who are devoted to the God of all things, and who endure all kinds of injury, even to death itself, rather than allow a falsehood to escape their lips regarding God, announce the appearances of angels which they have themselves witnessed, they are to be deemed unworthy of belief, and their words are not to be regarded as true! Now it is opposed to sound reason to judge in this way whether individuals are speaking truth or falsehood. For those who act honestly, only after a long and careful examination into the details of a subject, slowly and cautiously express their opinion of the veracity or falsehood of this or that person with regard to the marvels which they may relate; since it is the case that neither do all men show themselves worthy of belief, nor do all make it distinctly evident that they are relating to men only fictions and fables. Moreover, regarding the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, we have this remark to make, that it is not at all wonderful if, on such an occasion, either one or two angels should have appeared to announce that Jesus had risen from the dead, and to provide for the safety of those who believed in such an event to the advantage of their souls. Nor does it appear to me at all unreasonable, that those who believe in the resurrection of Jesus, and who manifest, as a fruit of their faith not to be lightly esteemed, their possession of a virtuous life, and their withdrawal from the flood of evils, should not be unattended by angels who lend their help in accomplishing their conversion to God.
But Celsus challenges the account also that an angel rolled away the stone from the sepulchre where the body of Jesus lay, acting like a lad at school, who should bring a charge against any one by help of a string of commonplaces. And, as if he had discovered some clever objection to the narrative, he remarks: "The Son of God, then, it appears, could not open his tomb, but required the aid of another to roll away the stone." Now, not to overdo the discussion. of this matter, or to have the appearance of unreasonably introducing philosophical remarks, by explaining the figurative meaning at present, I shall simply say of the narrative alone, that it does appear in itself a more respectful proceeding, that the servant and inferior should have rolled away the stone, than that such an act should have been performed by Him whose resurrection was to be for the advantage of mankind. I do not speak of the desire of those who conspired against the Word, and who wished to put Him to death, and to show to all men that He was dead and non-existent, that His tomb should not be opened, in order that no one might behold the Word alive after their conspiracy; but the "Angel of God" who came into the world for the salvation of men, with the help of another angel, proved more powerful than the conspirators, and rolled away the weighty stone, that those who deemed the Word to be dead might be convinced that He is not with the "departed," but is alive, and precedes those who are willing to follow Him, that He may manifest to them those truths which come after those which He formerly showed them at the time of their first entrance (into the school of Christianity), when they were as yet incapable of receiving deeper instruction. In the next place, I do not understand what advantage he thinks will accrue to his purpose when he ridicules the account of "the angel's visit to Joseph regarding the pregnancy of Mary;" and again, that of the angel to warn the parents "to take up the new-born Child, whose life was in danger, and to flee with it into Egypt." Concerning these matters, however, we have in the preceding pages answered his statements. But what does Celsus mean by saying, that "according to the Scriptures, angels are recorded to have been sent to Moses, and others as well?" For it appears to me to contribute nothing to his purpose, and especially because none of them made any effort to accomplish, as far as in his power, the conversion of the human race from their sins. Let it be granted, however, that other angels were sent from God, but that he came to announce something of greater importance (than any others who preceded him); and when the Jews had fallen into sin, and corrupted their religion, and had done unholy deeds, transferred the kingdom of God to other husbandmen, who in all the Churches take special care of themselves, and use every endeavour by means of a holy life, and by a doctrine conformable thereto, to win over to the God of all things those who would rush away from the teaching of Jesus.
Celsus then continues: "The Jews accordingly, and these (clearly meaning the Christians), have the same God;" and as if advancing a proposition which would not be conceded, he proceeds to make the following assertion: "It is certain, indeed, that the members of the great Church admit this, and adopt as true the accounts regarding the creation of the world which are current among the Jews, viz., concerning the six days and the seventh;" on which day, as the Scripture says, God "ceased" from His works, retiring into the contemplation of Himself, but on which, as Celsus says (who does not abide by the letter of the history, and who does not understand its meaning), God "rested,"—a term which is not found in the record. With respect, however, to the creation of the world, and the "rest which is reserved after it for the people of God," the subject is extensive, and mystical, and profound, and difficult of explanation. In the next place, as it appears to me, from a desire to fill up his book, and to give it an appearance of importance, he recklessly adds certain statements, such as the following, relating to the first man, of whom he says: "We give the same account. as do the Jews, and deduce the same genealogy from him as they do." However, as regards "the conspiracies of brothers against one another," we know of none such, save that Cain conspired against Abel, and Esau against Jacob; but not Abel against Cain, nor Jacob against Esau: for if this had been the case, Celsus would have been correct in saying that we give the same accounts as do the Jews of "the conspiracies of brothers against one another." Let it be granted, however, that we speak of the same descent into Egypt as they, and of their return thence, which was not a "flight," as Celsus considers it to have been, what does that avail towards founding an accusation against us or against the Jews? Here, indeed, he thought to cast ridicule upon us, when, in speaking of the Hebrew people, he termed their exodus a "flight;" but when it was his business to investigate the account of the punishments inflicted by God upon Egypt, that topic he purposely passed by in silence.
If, however, it be necessary to express ourselves with precision in our answer to Celsus, who thinks that we hold the same opinions on the matters in question as do the Jews, we would say that we both agree that the books (of Scripture) were written by the Spirit of God, but that we do not agree about the meaning of their contents; for we do not regulate our lives like the Jews, because we are of opinion that the literal acceptation of the laws is not that which conveys the meaning of the legislation. And we maintain, that "when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart," because the meaning of the law of Moses has been concealed from those who have not welcomed the way which is by Jesus Christ. But we know that if one turn to the Lord (for "the Lord is that Spirit"), the veil being taken away, "he beholds, as in a mirror with unveiled face, the glory of the Lord" in those thoughts which are concealed in their literal expression, and to his own glory becomes a participator of the divine glory; the term "face" being used figuratively for the "understanding," as one would call it without a figure, in which is the face of the "inner man," filled with light and glory, flowing from the true comprehension of the contents of the law.
After the above remarks he proceeds as follows: "Let no one suppose that I am ignorant that some of them will concede that their God is the same as that of the Jews, while others will maintain that he is a different one, to whom the latter is in opposition, and that it was from the former that the Son came," Now, if he imagine that the existence of numerous heresies among the Christians is a ground of accusation against Christianity, why, in a similar way, should it not be a ground of accusation against philosophy, that the various sects of philosophers differ from each other, not on small and indifferent points, but upon those of the highest importance? Nay, medicine also ought to be a subject of attack, on account of its many conflicting schools. Let it be admitted, then, that there are amongst us some who deny that our God is the same as that of the Jews: nevertheless, on that account those are not to be blamed who prove from the same Scriptures that one and the same Deity is the God of the Jews and of the Gentiles alike, as Paul, too, distinctly says, who was a convert from Judaism to Christianity, "I thank my God, whom I serve from my forefathers with a pure conscience." And let it be admitted also, that there is a third class who call certain persons "carnal," and others "spiritual,"—I think he here means the followers of Valentinus,— yet what does this avail against us, who belong to the Church, and who make it an accusation against such as hold that certain natures are saved, and that others perish in consequence of their natural constitution? And let it be admitted further, that there are some who give themselves out as Gnostics, in the same way as those Epicureans who call themselves philosophers: yet neither will they who annihilate the doctrine of providence be deemed true philosophers, nor those true Christians who introduce monstrous inventions, which are disapproved of by those who are the disciples of Jesus. Let it be admitted, moreover, that there are some who accept Jesus, and who boast on that account of being Christians, and yet would regulate their lives, like the Jewish multitude, in accordance with the Jewish law,—and these are the twofold sect of Ebionites, who either acknowledge with us that Jesus was born of a virgin, or deny this, and maintain that He was begotten like other human beings,—what does that avail by way of charge against such as belong to the Church, and whom Celsus has styled "those of the multitude?" He adds, also, that certain of the Christians are believers in the Sibyl, having probably misunderstood some who blamed such as believed in the existence of a prophetic Sibyl, and termed those who held this belief Sibyllists.
He next pours down Upon us a heap of names, saying that he knows of the existence of certain Simonians who worship Helene, or Helenus, as their teacher, and are called Helenians. But it has escaped the notice of Celsus that the Simonians do not at all acknowledge Jesus to be the Son of God, but term Simon the "power" of God, regarding whom they relate certain marvellous stories, saying that he imagined that if he could become possessed of similar powers to those with which be believed Jesus to be endowed, he too would become as powerful among men as Jesus was amongst the multitude. But neither Celsus nor Simon could comprehend how Jesus, like a good husbandman of the word of God, was able to sow the greater part of Greece, and of barbarian lands, with His doctrine, and to fill these countries with words which transform the soul from all that is evil, and bring it back to the Creator of all things. Celsus knows, moreover, certain Marcellians, so called from Marcellina, and Harpocratians from Salome, and others who derive their name from Mariamme, and others again from Martha. We, however, who from a love of learning examine to the utmost of our ability not only the contents of Scripture, and the differences to which they give rise, but have also, from love to the truth, investigated as far as we could the opinions of philosophers, have never at any time met with these sects. He makes mention also of the Marcionites, whose leader was Marcion.
In the next place, that he may have the appearance of knowing still more than he has yet mentioned, he says, agreeably to his usual custom, that "there are others who have wickedly invented some being as their teacher and demon, and who wallow about in a great darkness, more unholy and accursed than that of the companions of the Egyptian Antinous." And he seems to me, indeed, in touching on these matters, to say with a certain degree of truth, that there are certain others who have wickedly invented another demon, and who have found him to be their lord, as they wallow about in the great darkness of their ignorance. With respect, however, to Antinous, who is compared with our Jesus, we shall not repeat what we have already said in the preceding pages. "Moreover," he continues, "these persons utter against one another dreadful blasphemies, saying all manner of things shameful to be spoken; nor will they yield in the slightest point for the sake of harmony, hating each other with a perfect hatred." Now, in answer to this, we have already said that in philosophy and medicine sects are to be found warring against sects. We, however, who are followers of the word of Jesus, and have exercised ourselves in thinking, and saying, and doing what is in harmony with His words, "when reviled, bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat;" and we would not utter "all manner of things shameful to be spoken" against those who have adopted different opinions from ours, but, if possible, use every exertion to raise them to a better condition through adherence to the Creator alone, and lead them to perform every act as those who will (one day) be judged. And if those who hold different opinions will not be convinced, we observe the injunction laid down for the treatment of such: "A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject, knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself." Moreover, we who know the maxim, "Blessed are the peacemakers," and this also, "Blessed are the meek," would not regard with hatred the corrupters of Christianity, nor term those who had fallen into error Circes and flattering deceivers.
Celsus appears to me to have misunderstood the statement of the apostle, which declares that "in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them who believe;" and to have misunderstood also those who employed these declarations of the apostle against such as had corrupted the doctrines of Christianity. And it is owing to this cause that Celsus has said that "certain among the Christians are called 'cauterized in the ears;' " and also that some are termed "enigmas,"—a term which we have never met. The expression "stumbling-block" is, indeed, of frequent occurrence in these writings,- -an appellation which we are accustomed to apply to those who turn away simple persons, and those who are easily deceived, from sound doctrine. But neither we, nor, I imagine, any other, whether Christian or heretic, know of any who are styled Sirens, who betray and deceive, and stop their ears, and change into swine those whom they delude. And yet this man, who affects to know everything, uses such language as the following: "You may hear," he says, "all those who differ so widely, and who assail each other in their disputes with the most shameless language, uttering the words, 'The world is crucified to me, and I unto the world.'" And this is the only phrase which, it appears, Celsus could remember out of Paul's writings; and yet why should we not also employ innumerable other quotations from the Scriptures, such as, "For though we do walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh; (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds,) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God?"
But since he asserts that "you may hear all those who differ so widely saying, 'The world is crucified to me, and I unto the world,'" we shall show the falsity of such a statement. For there are certain heretical sects which do not receive the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, as the two sects of Ebionites, and those who are termed Encratites. Those, then, who do not regard the apostle as a holy and wise man, will not adopt his language, and say, "The world is crucified to me, and I unto the world." And consequently in this point, too, Celsus is guilty of falsehood. He continues, moreover, to linger over the accusations which he brings against the diversity of sects which exist, but does not appear to me to be accurate in the language which he employs, nor to have carefully observed or understood how it is that those Christians who have made progress in their studies say that they are possessed of greater knowledge than the Jews; and also, whether they acknowledge the same Scriptures, but interpret them differently, or whether they do not recognise these books as divine. For we find both of these views prevailing among the sects. He then continues: "Although they have no foundation for the doctrine, let us examine the system itself; and, in the first place, let us mention the corruptions which they have made through ignorance and misunderstanding, when in the discussion of elementary principles they express their opinions in the most absurd manner on things which they do not understand, such as the following." And then, to certain expressions which are continually in the mouths of the believers in Christianity, he opposes certain others from the writings of the philosophers, with the object of making it appear that the noble sentiments which Celsus supposes to be used by Christians have been expressed in better and clearer language by the philosophers, in order that he might drag away to the study of philosophy those who are caught by opinions which at once evidence their noble and religious character. We shall, however, here terminate the fifth book, and begin the sixth with what follows.
Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland beginning in 1867. (ANF 4, Roberts and Donaldson). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.