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Chapter LXXVIII.

After having brought against us charges of so serious a kind, he wishes to make it appear that, although he has others to adduce, he passes them by in silence.  His words are as follows:  “These charges I have to bring against them, and others of a similar nature, not to enumerate them one by one, and I affirm that they are in error, and that they act insolently towards God, in order to lead on wicked men by empty hopes, and to persuade them to despise better things, saying that if they refrain from them it will be better for them.”  In answer to which, it might be said that from the power which shows itself in those who are converted to Christianity, it is not at all the “wicked” who are won over to the Gospel, as the more simple class of persons, and, as many would term them, the “unpolished.”36733673    The reading in the text is κομψοί, which is so opposed to the sense of the passage, that the conjecture of Guietus, ακομψοι, has been adopted in the translation.  For such individuals, through fear of the punishments that are threatened, which arouses and exhorts them to refrain from those actions which are followed by punishments, strive to yield themselves up to the Christian religion, being influenced by the power of the word to such a degree, that through fear of what are called in the word “everlasting punishments,” they despise all the tortures which are devised against them among men,—even death itself, with countless other evils,—which no wise man would say is the act of persons of wicked mind.  How can temperance and sober-mindedness, or benevolence and liberality, be practised by a man of wicked mind?  Nay, even the fear of God cannot be felt by such an one, with respect to which, because it is useful to the many, the Gospel encourages those who are not yet able to choose that which ought to be chosen for its own sake, to select it as the greatest blessing, and one above all promise; for this principle cannot be implanted in him who prefers to live in wickedness.


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