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But if it is on account of those opinions of the Christians and Jews which displease Celsus (and which he does not at all appear to understand) that they are to be regarded as worms and ants, and the rest of mankind as different, let us examine the acknowledged opinions of Christians and Jews,37793779 τὰ αὐτόθεν πᾶσι προφαινόμενα δόγματα Χριστιανῶν καὶ ᾽Ιουδαίων. and compare them with those of the rest of mankind, and see whether it will not appear to those who have once admitted that certain men are worms and ants, that they are the worms and ants and frogs who have fallen away from sound views of God, and, under a vain appearance of piety,37803780 φαντασίᾳ δ᾽ εὐσεβείας. worship either irrational animals, or images, or other objects, the works of men’s hands;37813781 ἢ καὶ τὰ δημιουργἠματα. whereas, from the beauty of such, they ought to admire the Maker of them, and worship Him: while those are indeed men, and more honourable than men (if there be anything that is so), who, in obedience to their reason, are able to ascend from stocks and stones,37823782 λίθων καὶ ξύλων. nay, even from what is reckoned the most precious of all matter—silver and gold; and who ascend up also from the beautiful things in the world to the Maker of all, and entrust themselves to Him who alone is able to satisfy37833783 διαρκεῖν. all existing things, and to overlook the thoughts of all, and to hear the prayers of all; who send up their prayers to Him, and do all things as in the presence of Him who beholds everything, and who are careful, as in the presence of the Hearer of all things, to say nothing which might not with propriety be reported to God. Will not such piety as this—which can be overcome neither by labours, nor by the dangers of death, nor by logical plausibilities37843784 ὑπὸ λογικῶν πιθανοτήτων.—be of no avail in preventing those who have obtained it from being any longer compared to worms, even if they had been so represented before their assumption of a piety so remarkable? Will they who subdue that fierce longing for sexual pleasures which has reduced the souls of many to a weak and feeble condition, and who subdue it because they are persuaded that they cannot otherwise have communion with God, unless they ascend to Him through the exercise of temperance, appear to you to be the brothers of worms, and relatives of ants, and to 508bear a likeness to frogs? What! is the brilliant quality of justice, which keeps inviolate the rights common to our neighbour, and our kindred, and which observes fairness, and benevolence, and goodness, of no avail in saving him who practises it from being termed a bird of the night? And are not they who wallow in dissoluteness, as do the majority of mankind, and they who associate promiscuously with common harlots, and who teach that such practices are not wholly contrary to propriety, worms who roll in mire?—especially when they are compared with those who have been taught not to take the “members of Christ,” and the body inhabited by the Word, and make them the “members of a harlot;” and who have already learned that the body of the rational being, as consecrated to the God of all things, is the temple of the God whom they worship, becoming such from the pure conceptions which they entertain of the Creator, and who also, being careful not to corrupt the temple of God by unlawful pleasure; practise temperance as constituting piety towards God!
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