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Chapter XX.—Heathen analogies to Christian doctrine.

And the Sibyl18111811    The Sibylline Oracles are now generally regarded as heathen fragments largely interpolated by unscrupulous men during the early ages of the Church. For an interesting account of these somewhat perplexing documents, see Burton’s Lectures on the Ecclesiastical History of the First Three Centuries, Lect. xvii. The prophecies of Hystaspes were also commonly appealed to as genuine by the early Christians. [See (on the Sibyls and Justin M.) Casaubon, Exercitationes, pp. 65 and 80. This work is a most learned and diversified thesaurus, in the form of strictures on Card. Baronius. Geneva, 1663.] and Hystaspes said that there should be a dissolution by God of things corruptible. And the philosophers called Stoics teach that even God Himself shall be resolved into fire, and they say that the world is to be formed anew by this revolution; but we understand that God, the Creator of all things, is superior to the things that are to be changed. If, therefore, on some points we teach the same things as the poets and philosophers whom you honour, and on other points are fuller and more divine in our teaching, and if we alone afford proof of what we assert, why are we unjustly hated more than all others? For while we say that all things have been produced and arranged into a world by God, we shall seem to utter the doctrine of 170 Plato; and while we say that there will be a burning up of all, we shall seem to utter the doctrine of the Stoics: and while we affirm that the souls of the wicked, being endowed with sensation even after death, are punished, and that those of the good being delivered from punishment spend a blessed existence, we shall seem to say the same things as the poets and philosophers; and while we maintain that men ought not to worship the works of their hands, we say the very things which have been said by the comic poet Menander, and other similar writers, for they have declared that the workman is greater than the work.


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