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Chapter II.—These Heretics Brand the Christians as Simple Persons.  The Charge Accepted, and Simplicity Eulogized Out of the Scriptures.

For this reason we are branded66296629    Notamur. by them as simple, and as being merely so, without being wise also; as if indeed wisdom were compelled to be wanting in simplicity, whereas the Lord unites them both: “Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and simple as doves.”66306630    Matt. x. 16. Now if we, on our parts, be accounted foolish because we are simple, does it then follow that they are not simple because they are wise? Most perverse, however, are they who are not simple, even as they are most foolish who are not wise. And yet, (if I must choose) I should prefer taking66316631    In the original the phrase is put passively: “malim eam partem meliori sumi vitio.” the latter condition for the lesser fault; since it is perhaps better to have a wisdom which falls short in quantity, than that which is bad in quality66326632    How terse is the original! minus sapere quam pejus.—better to be in error than to mislead. Besides, the face of the Lord66336633    Facies Dei. is patiently waited for by those who “seek Him in simplicity of heart,” as says the very Wisdom—not of Valentinus, but—of Solomon.66346634    Wisd. of Sol. i. 1. Then, again, infants have borne66356635    Litaverunt: “consecrated.” by their blood a testimony to Christ.  (Would you say) that it was children who shouted “Crucify Him”?66366636    Tertullian’s words are rather suggestive of sense than of syntax:  “Pueros vocem qui crucem clamant?” They were neither children nor infants; in other words, they were not simple. The apostle, too, bids us to “become children again” towards God,66376637    Secundum Deum: “according to God’s will.” “to be as children in malice” by our simplicity, yet as being also “wise in our practical faculties.”66386638    1 Cor. xiv. 20, where Tertullian renders the ταῖς φρεσί (A.V. “understanding”) by “sensibus.” At the same time, with respect to the order of development in Wisdom, I have admitted66396639    Dedi. that it flows from simplicity. In brief, “the dove” has usually served to figure Christ; “the serpent,” to tempt Him. The one even from the first has been the harbinger of divine peace; the other from the beginning has been the despoiler of the divine image.  Accordingly, simplicity alone66406640    i.e., without wisdom. will be more easily able to know and to declare God, whereas wisdom alone will rather do Him violence,66416641    Concutere. and betray Him.


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