Table of Contents
Perfect Modesty Will Abstain from Whatever Tends to Sin, as Well as from Sin Itself. Difference Between Trust and Presumption. If Secure Ourselves, We Must Not Put Temptation in the Way of Others. We Must Love Our Neighbour as Ourself.
Christian Women, Further, Have Not the Same Causes for Appearing in Public, and Hence for Dressing in Fine Array as Gentiles. On the Contrary, Their Appearance Should Always Distinguish Them from Such.
It is Not Enough that God Know Us to Be Chaste: We Must Seem So Before Men. Especially in These Times of Persecution We Must Inure Our Bodies to the Hardships Which They May Not Improbably Be Called to Suffer.
Argument: The Arrival of Octavius at Rome During the Time of the Public Holidays Was Very Agreeable to Minucius. Both of Them Were Desirous of Going to the Marine Baths of Ostia, with Cæcilius Associated with Them as a Companion of Minucius. On Their Way Together to the Sea, Cæcillus, Seeing an Image of Serapis, Raises His Hand to His Mouth, and Worships It.
Argument: Octavius, Displeased at the Act of This Superstitious Man, Sharply Reproaches Minucius, on the Ground that the Disgrace of This Wicked Deed is Reflected Not Less on Himself, as Cæcilius' Host, Than on Cæcilius.
Argument: Cæcilius, Somewhat Grieved at This Kind of Rebuke Which for His Sake Minucius Had Had to Bear from Octavius, Begs to Argue with Octavius on the Truth of His Religion. Octavius with His Companion Consents, and Minucius Sits in the Middle Between Cæcilius and Octavius.
Argument: Cæcilius Begins His Argument First of All by Reminding Them that in Human Affairs All Things are Doubtful and Uncertain, and that Therefore It is to Be Lamented that Christians, Who for the Most Part are Untrained and Illiterate Persons, Should Dare to Determine on Anything with Certainty Concerning the Chief of Things and the Divine Majesty: Hence He Argues that the World is Governed by No Providence, and Concludes that It is Better to Abide by the Received Forms of Religion.
Argument: The Impious Temerity of Theodorus, Diagoras, and Protagoras is Not at All to Be Acquiesced In, Who Wished Either Altogether to Get Rid of the Religion of the Gods, or at Least to Weaken It. But Infinitely Less to Be Endured is that Skulking and Light-Shunning People of the Christians, Who Reject the Gods, and Who, Fearing to Die After Death, Do Not in the Meantime Fear to Die.
Argument: The Religion of the Christians is Foolish, Inasmuch as They Worship a Crucified Man, and Even the Instrument Itself of His Punishment. They are Said to Worship the Head of an Ass, and Even the Nature of Their Father. They are Initiated by the Slaughter and the Blood of an Infant, and in Shameless Darkness They are All Mixed Up in an Uncertain Medley.
Argument: Whatever the Christians Worship, They Strive in Every Way to Conceal: They Have No Altars, No Temples, No Acknowledged Images. Their God, Like that of the Jews, is Said to Be One, Whom, Although They are Neither Able to See Nor to Show, They Think Nevertheless to Be Mischievous, Restless, and Unseasonably Inquisitive.
Argument: Besides Asserting the Future Conflagration of the Whole World, They Promise Afterwards the Resurrection of Our Bodies: and to the Righteous an Eternity of Most Blessed Life; To the Unrighteous, of Extreme Punishment.
Argument: Moreover, What Will Happen to the Christians Themselves After Death, May Be Anticipated from the Fact that Even Now They are Destitute of All Means, and are Afflicted with the Heaviest Calamities and Miseries.
Argument: With Something of the Pride of Self-Satisfaction, Cæcilius Urges Octavius to Reply to His Arguments; And Minucius with Modesty Answers Him, that He Must Not Exult at His Own by No Means Ordinary Eloquence, and at the Harmonious Variety of His Address.
Argument: Cæcilius Retorts Upon Minucius, with Some Little Appearance of Being Hurt, that He is Foregoing the Office of a Religious Umpire, When He is Weakening the Force of His Argument. He Says that It Should Be Left to Octavius to Confute All that He Had Advanced.
Argument: Octavius Arranges His Reply, and Trusts that He Shall Be Able to Dilute the Bitterness of Reproach with the River of Truthful Words. He Proceeds to Weaken the Individual Arguments of Cæcilius. Nobody Need Complain that the Christians, Unlearned Though They May Be, Dispute About Heavenly Things Because It is Not the Authority of Him Who Argues, But the Truth of the Argument Itself, that Should Be Considered.
Argument: Man Ought Indeed to Know Himself, But This Knowledge Cannot Be Attained by Him Unless He First of All Acknowledges the Entire Scope of Things, and God Himself. And from the Constitution and Furniture of the World Itself, Every One Endowed with Reason Holds that It Was Established by God, and is Governed and Administered by Him.
Argument: Moreover, God Not Only Takes Care of the Universal World, But of Its Individual Parts. That by the Decree of the One God All Things are Governed, is Proved by the Illustration of Earthly Empires. But Although He, Being Infinite and Immense--And How Great He Is, is Known to Himself Alone--Cannot Either Be Seen or Named by Us, Yet His Glory is Beheld Most Clearly When the Use of All Titles is Laid Aside.
Argument: Moreover, the Poets Have Called Him the Parent of Gods and Men, the Creator of All Things, and Their Mind and Spirit. And, Besides, Even the More Excellent Philosophers Have Come Almost to the Same Conclusion as the Christians About the Unity of God.
Argument: But If the World is Ruled by Providence and Governed by the Will of One God, an Ignorant Antipathy Ought Not to Carry Us Away into the Error of Agreement with It: Although Delighted with Its Own Fables, It Has Brought in Ridiculous Traditions. Nor is It Shown Less Plainly that the Worship of the Gods Has Always Been Silly and Impious, in that the Most Ancient of Men Have Venerated Their Kings, Their Illustrious Generals, and Inventors of Arts, on Account of Their Remarkable Deeds, No Otherwise Than as Gods.
Argument: Octavius Attests the Fact that Men Were Adopted as Gods, by the Testimony of Euhemerus, Prodicus, Persæus, and Alexander the Great, Who Enumerate the Country, the Birthdays, and the Burial-Places of the Gods. Moreover He Sets Forth the Mournful Endings, Misfortunes, and Deaths of the Gods. And, in Addition, He Laughs at the Ridiculous and Disgusting Absurdities Which the Heathens Continually Allege About the Form and Appearance of Their Gods.
Argument: Moreover, These Fables, Which at First Were Invented by Ignorant Men, Were Afterwards Celebrated by Others, and Chiefly by Poets, Who Did No Little Mischief to the Truth by Their Authority. By Fictions of This Kind, and by Falsehoods of a Yet More Attractive Nature, the Minds of Young People are Corrupted, and Thence They Miserably Grow Old in These Beliefs, Although, on the Other Hand, the Truth is Obvious to Them If They Will Only Seek After It.
Argument: Although the Heathens Acknowledge Their Kings to Be Mortal, Yet They Feign that They are Gods Even Against Their Own Will, Not Because of Their Belief in Their Divinity, But in Honour of the Power that They Have Exerted. Yet a True God Has Neither Rising Nor Setting. Thence Octavius Criticises the Images and Shrines of the Gods.
Argument: Then He Shows that Cæcilius Had Been Wrong in Asserting that the Romans Had Gained Their Power Over the Whole World by Means of the Due Observance of Superstitions of This Kind. Rather the Romans in Their Origin Were Collected by Crime, and Grew by the Terrors of Their Ferocity. And Therefore the Romans Were Not So Great Because They Were Religious, But Because They Were Sacrilegious with Impunity.
Argument: The Weapon that Cæcilius Had Slightly Brandished Against Him, Taken from the Auspices and Auguries of Birds, Octavius Retorts by Instancing the Cases of Regulus, Mancinus, Paulus, and Cæsar. And He Shows by Other Examples, that the Argument from the Oracles is of No Greater Force Than the Others.
Argument: Recapitulation. Doubtless Here is a Source of Error: Demons Lurk Under the Statues and Images, They Haunt the Fanes, They Animate the Fibres of the Entrails, Direct the Flights of Birds, Govern the Lots, Pour Forth Oracles Involved in False Responses. These Things Not from God; But They are Constrained to Confess When They are Adjured in the Name of the True God, and are Driven from the Possessed Bodies. Hence They Flee Hastily from the Neighbourhood of Christians, and Stir Up a Hatred Against Them in the Minds of the Gentiles Who Begin to Hate Them Before They Know Them.
Argument: Nor is It Only Hatred that They Arouse Against the Christians, But They Charge Against Them Horrid Crimes, Which Up to This Time Have Been Proved by Nobody. This is the Work of Demons. For by Them a False Report is Both Set on Foot and Propagated. The Christians are Falsely Accused of Sacrilege, of Incest, of Adultery, of Parricide; And, Moreover, It is Certain and True that the Very Same Crimes, or Crimes Like to or Greater Than These, are in Fact Committed by the Gentiles Themselves.
Argument: Nor is It More True that a Man Fastened to a Cross on Account of His Crimes is Worshipped by Christians, for They Believe Not Only that He Was Innocent, But with Reason that He Was God. But, on the Other Hand, the Heathens Invoke the Divine Powers of Kings Raised into Gods by Themselves; They Pray to Images, and Beseech Their Genii.
Argument: The Story About Christians Drinking the Blood of an Infant that They Have Murdered, is a Barefaced Calumny. But the Gentiles, Both Cruelly Expose Their Children Newly Born, and Before They are Born Destroy Them by a Cruel Abortion. Christians are Neither Allowed to See Nor to Hear of Manslaughter.
Argument: The Charge of Our Entertainments Being Polluted with Incest, is Entirely Opposed to All Probability, While It is Plain that Gentiles are Actually Guilty of Incest. The Banquets of Christians are Not Only Modest, But Temperate. In Fact, Incestuous Lust is So Unheard Of, that with Many Even the Modest Association of the Sexes Gives Rise to a Blush.
Argument: Nor Can It Be Said that the Christians Conceal What They Worship Because They Have No Temples and No Altars, Inasmuch as They are Persuaded that God Can Be Circumscribed by No Temple, and that No Likeness of Him Can Be Made. But He is Everywhere Present, Sees All Things, Even the Most Secret Thoughts of Our Hearts; And We Live Near to Him, and in His Protection.
Argument: That Even If God Be Said to Have Nothing Availed the Jews, Certainly the Writers of the Jewish Annals are the Most Sufficient Witnesses that They Forsook God Before They Were Forsaken by Him.
Argument: Moreover, It is Not at All to Be Wondered at If This World is to Be Consumed by Fire, Since Everything Which Has a Beginning Has Also an End. And the Ancient Philosophers are Not Averse from the Opinion of the Probable Burning Up of the World. Yet It is Evident that God, Having Made Man from Nothing, Can Raise Him Up from Death into Life. And All Nature Suggests a Future Resurrection.
Argument: Righteous and Pious Men Shall Be Rewarded with Never-Ending Felicity, But Unrighteous Men Shall Be Visited with Eternal Punishment. The Morals of Christians are Far More Holy Than Those of the Gentiles.
Argument: Fate is Nothing, Except So Far as Fate is God. Man's Mind is Free, and Therefore So is His Action: His Birth is Not Brought into Judgment. It is Not a Matter of Infamy, But of Glory, that Christians are Reproached for Their Poverty; And the Fact that They Suffer Bodily Evils is Not as a Penalty, But as a Discipline.
Argument: Tortures Most Unjustly Inflicted for the Confession of Christ's Name are Spectacles Worthy of God. A Comparison Instituted Between Some of the Bravest of the Heathens and the Holy Martyrs. He Declares that Christians Do Not Present Themselves at Public Shows and Processions, Because They Know Them, with the Greatest Certainty, to Be No Less Impious Than Cruel.
Argument: Christians Abstain from Things Connected with Idol Sacrifices, Lest Any One Should Think Either that They Yield to Demons, or that They are Ashamed of Their Religion. They Do Not Indeed Despise All the Colour and Scent of Flowers, for They are Accustomed to Use Them Scattered About Loosely and Negligently, as Well as to Entwine Their Necks with Garlands; But to Crown the Head of a Corpse They Think Superfluous and Useless. Moreover, with the Same Tranquillity with Which They Live They Bury Their Dead, Waiting with a Very Certain Hope the Crown of Eternal Felicity. Therefore Their Religion, Rejecting All the Superstitions of the Gentiles, Should Be Adopted as True by All Men.
Argument: When Octavius Had Finished This Address, Minucius and Cæcilius Sate for Some Time in Attentive and Silent Wonder. And Minucius Indeed Kept Silence in Admiration of Octavius, Silently Revolving What He Had Heard.
Argument: Then Cæcilius Exclaims that He is Vanquished by Octavius; And That, Being Now Conqueror Over Error, He Professes the Christian Religion. He Postpones, However, Till the Morrow His Training in the Fuller Belief of Its Mysteries.
Chapter I., Sections 1-23 translated from the Greek: On the Inspiration of Holy Scripture, and How the Same is to be Read and Understood, and What is the Reason of the Uncertainty in it; and of the Impossibility or Irrationality of Certain Things in it, Taken According to the Letter.