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Chapter XCVI.

We ought to take note, however, that the power of foreknowing the future is by no means a proof of divinity; for in itself it is a thing indifferent, and is found occurring amongst both good and bad.  Physicians, at any rate, by means of their professional skill foreknow certain things, although their character may happen to be bad.  And in the same way also pilots, although perhaps wicked men, are able to foretell the signs40614061    ἐπισημασίας. (of good or bad weather), and the approach of violent tempests of wind, and atmospheric changes,40624062    τροπάς. because they gather this knowledge from experience and observation, although I do not suppose that on that account any one would 540term them “gods” if their characters happened to be bad.  The assertion, then, of Celsus is false, when he says:  “What could be called more divine than the power of foreknowing and foretelling the future?”  And so also is this, that “many of the animals claim to have ideas of God;” for none of the irrational animals possess any idea of God.  And wholly false, too, is his assertion, that “the irrational animals are nearer the society of God (than men),” when even men who are still in a state of wickedness, however great their progress in knowledge, are far removed from that society.  It is, then, those alone who are truly wise and sincerely religious who are nearer to God’s society; such persons as were our prophets, and Moses, to the latter of whom, on account of his exceeding purity, the Scripture said:  “Moses alone shall come near the Lord, but the rest shall not come nigh.”40634063    Cf. Ex. xxiv. 2.


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