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Chapter LXIX.

Celsus continues in his usual manner, asserting that “to change a nature entirely is exceedingly difficult.”  We, however, who know of only one nature in every rational soul, and who maintain that none has been created evil by the Author of all things, but that many have become wicked through education, and perverse example, and surrounding influences,36483648    παρὰ τὰς ἀνατροφὰς, καὶ τὰς διαστροφὰς, καὶ τὰς περιηχήσεις. so that wickedness has been naturalized36493649    φυσιωθῆναι. in some individuals, are persuaded that for the word of God to change a nature in which evil has been naturalized is not only not impossible, but is even a work of no very great difficulty, if a man only believe that he must entrust himself to the God of all things, and do everything with a view to please Him with whom it cannot be36503650    [παρ᾽ ὧ οὐκ ἔστιν.  S.] that

“Both good and bad are in the same honour,

Or that the idle man and he who laboured much

Perish alike.”36513651    Cf. Iliad, ix. 319, 320.

But even if it be exceedingly difficult to effect a change in some persons, the cause must be held to lie in their own will, which is reluctant to accept the belief that the God over all things is a just Judge of all the deeds done during life.  For deliberate choice and practice36523652    προαίρεσις καὶ ασκησις. avail much towards the accomplishment of things which appear to be very difficult, and, to speak hyperbolically, almost impossible.  Has the nature of man, when desiring to walk along a rope extended in the air through the middle of the theatre, and to carry at the same time numerous and heavy weights, been able by practice and attention to accomplish such a feat; but when desiring to live in conformity with the practice of virtue, does it find it impossible to do so, although formerly it may have been exceedingly wicked?  See whether he who holds such views does not bring a charge against the nature of the Creator of the rational animal36533653    τοῦ λογικοῦ ζώου. rather than against the creature, if He has formed the nature of man with powers for the attainment of things of such difficulty, and of no utility whatever, but has rendered it incapable of securing its own blessedness.  But these remarks may suffice as an answer to the assertion that “entirely to change a nature is exceedingly difficult.”  He alleges, in the next place, that “they who are without sin are partakers of a better life;” not making it clear what he means by “those who are without sin,” whether those who are so from the beginning (of their lives), or those who become so by a transformation.  Of those who were so from the beginning of their lives, there cannot possibly be any; while those who are so after a 492transformation (of heart) are found to be few in number, being those who have become so after giving in their allegiance to the saving word.  And they were not such when they gave in their allegiance.  For, apart from the aid of the word, and that too the word of perfection, it is impossible for a man to become free from sin.


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