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Chapter III.—The Soul’s Origin Defined Out of the Simple Words of Scripture.

Would to God that no “heresies had been ever necessary, in order that they which are approved may be made manifest!”15071507    1 Cor. x. 19. We should then be never required to try our strength in contests about the soul with philosophers, those patriarchs of heretics, as they may be fairly called.15081508    Compare Tertullian’s Adv. Hermog. c. viii. The apostle, so far back as his own time, foresaw, indeed, that philosophy would do violent injury to the truth.15091509    Col. ii. 8. This admonition about false philosophy he was induced to offer after he had been at Athens, had become acquainted with that loquacious city,15101510    Linguatam civitatem. Comp. Acts xvii. 21. and had there had a taste of its huckstering wiseacres and talkers. In like manner is the treatment of the soul according to the sophistical doctrines of men which “mix their 184wine with water.”15111511    Isa. i. 22. Some of them deny the immortality of the soul; others affirm that it is immortal, and something more. Some raise disputes about its substance; others about its form; others, again, respecting each of its several faculties. One school of philosophers derives its state from various sources, while another ascribes its departure to different destinations. The various schools reflect the character of their masters, according as they have received their impressions from the dignity15121512    Honor. of Plato, or the vigour15131513    Vigor. Another reading has “rigor” (ακληρότης), harshness. of Zeno, or the equanimity15141514    Tenor. of Aristotle, or the stupidity15151515    Stupor. of Epicurus, or the sadness15161516    Mœror. of Heraclitus, or the madness15171517    Furor. of Empedocles. The fault, I suppose, of the divine doctrine lies in its springing from Judæa15181518    Isa. ii. 3. rather than from Greece. Christ made a mistake, too, in sending forth fishermen to preach, rather than the sophist. Whatever noxious vapours, accordingly, exhaled from philosophy, obscure the clear and wholesome atmosphere of truth, it will be for Christians to clear away, both by shattering to pieces the arguments which are drawn from the principles of things—I mean those of the philosophers—and by opposing to them the maxims of heavenly wisdom—that is, such as are revealed by the Lord; in order that both the pitfalls wherewith philosophy captivates the heathen may be removed, and the means employed by heresy to shake the faith of Christians may be repressed. We have already decided one point in our controversy with Hermogenes, as we said at the beginning of this treatise, when we claimed the soul to be formed by the breathing15191519    Flatu. of God, and not out of matter. We relied even there on the clear direction of the inspired statement which informs us how that “the Lord God breathed on man’s face the breath of life, so that man became a living soul”15201520    Gen. ii. 7.—by that inspiration of God, of course. On this point, therefore, nothing further need be investigated or advanced by us. It has its own treatise,15211521    Titulus. and its own heretic. I shall regard it as my introduction to the other branches of the subject.


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