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Chapter LXXXI.

Our noble opponent, however, not observing how many philosophers there are who admit the existence of Providence, and who hold that Providence created all things for the sake of rational beings, overturns as far as he can those doctrines which are of use in showing the harmony that prevails in these matters between Christianity and philosophy; nor does he see how great is the injury done to religion from accepting the statement that before God there is no difference between a man and an ant or a bee, but proceeds to add, that “if men appear to be superior to irrational animals on this account, that they have built cities, and make use of a political constitution, and forms of government, and sovereignties,40124012    ἡγεμονίαις. this is to say nothing to the purpose, for ants and bees do the same.  Bees, indeed, have a sovereign, who has followers and attendants; and there occur among them wars and victories, and slaughterings of the vanquished,40134013    τῶν ἡττημένων αἱρέσεις.  “Nota αἱρέσεις hoc loco sumi pro internecionibus, cædibus.  Haud scio an alibi reperiatur pari significatu.  Forte etiam scribendum καθαιρέσεις .”—Ruæus. and cities and suburbs, and a succession of labours, and judgments passed upon the idle and the wicked; for the drones are driven away and punished.”  Now here he did not observe the difference that exists between what is done after reason and consideration, and what is the result of an irrational nature, and is purely mechanical.  For the origin of these things is not explained by the existence of any rational principle in those who make them, because they do not possess any such principle; but the most ancient Being, who is also the Son of God, and the King of all things that exist, has created an irrational nature, which, as being irrational, acts as a help to those who are deemed worthy of reason.  Cities, accordingly, were established among men, with many arts and well-arranged laws; while constitutions, and governments, and sovereignties among men are either such as are properly so termed, and which exemplify certain virtuous tendencies and workings, or they are those which are improperly so called, and which were devised, so far as could be done, in imitation of the former:  for it was by contemplating these that the most successful legislators established the best constitutions, and governments, and sovereignties.  None of these things, however, can be found among irrational animals, although Celsus may transfer rational names, and arrangements which belong to rational beings, as cities and constitutions, and rulers and sovereignties, even to ants and bees; in respect to which matters, however, ants and bees merit no approval, because they do not act from reflection.  But we ought to admire the divine nature, which extended even to irrational animals the capacity, as it were, of imitating rational beings, perhaps with a view of putting rational beings to shame; so that by looking upon ants, for instance, they might become more industrious and more thrifty in the management of their goods; while, by considering the bees, they might place themselves in subjection to their Ruler, and take their respective parts in those constitutional duties which are of use in ensuring the safety of cities.


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