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543Book V.

Chapter I.

It is not, my reverend Ambrosius, because we seek after many words—a thing which is forbidden, and in the indulgence of which it is impossible to avoid sin40744074    Cf. Prov. x. 19.—that we now begin the fifth book of our reply to the treatise of Celsus, but with the endeavour, so far as may be within our power, to leave none of his statements without examination, and especially those in which it might appear to some that he had skilfully assailed us and the Jews.  If it were possible, indeed, for me to enter along with my words into the conscience of every one without exception who peruses this work, and to extract each dart which wounds him who is not completely protected with the “whole armour” of God, and apply a rational medicine to cure the wound inflicted by Celsus, which prevents those who listen to his words from remaining “sound in the faith,” I would do so.  But since it is the work of God alone, in conformity with His own Spirit, and along with that of Christ, to take up His abode invisibly in those persons whom He judges worthy of being visited; so, on the other hand, is our object to try, by means of arguments and treatises, to confirm men in their faith, and to earn the name of “workmen needing not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”40754075    Cf. 2 Tim. ii. 15.  And there is one thing above all which it appears to us we ought to do, if we would discharge faithfully the task enjoined upon us by you, and that is to overturn to the best of our ability the confident assertions of Celsus.  Let us then quote such assertions of his as follow those which we have already refuted (the reader must decide whether we have done so successfully or not), and let us reply to them.  And may God grant that we approach not our subject with our understanding and reason empty and devoid of divine inspiration, that the faith of those whom we wish to aid may not depend upon human wisdom, but that, receiving the “mind” of Christ from His Father, who alone can bestow it, and being strengthened by participating in the word of God, we may pull down “every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God,”40764076    Cf. 2 Cor. x. 5. and the imagination of Celsus, who exalts himself against us, and against Jesus, and also against Moses and the prophets, in order that He who “gave the word to those who published it with great power”40774077    Cf. Ps. lxviii. 11. may supply us also, and bestow upon us “great power,” so that faith in the word and power of God may be implanted in the minds of all who will peruse our work.


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