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Chapter LVII.

With respect to the question, “How is he incapable of persuading and admonishing men?” it has been already stated that, if such an objection were really a ground of charge, then the objection of Celsus might be brought against those who accept the doctrine of providence.  Any one might answer the charge that God is incapable of admonishing men; for He conveys His admonitions throughout the whole of Scripture, and by means of those persons who, through God’s gracious appointment, are the instructors of His hearers.  Unless, indeed, some peculiar meaning be understood to attach to the word “admonish,” as if it signified both to penetrate into the mind of the person admonished, and to make him hear the words of his45684568    τὸ καὶ ἐπιτυγχάνειν ἐν τῷ νουθετουμένῳ καὶ ἀκούειν τὸν τοῦ διδάσκοντος λόγον. instructor, which is contrary to the usual meaning of the word.  To the objection, “How is he incapable of persuading?”—which also might be brought against all who believe in providence,—we have to make the following remarks.  Since the expression “to be persuaded” belongs to those words which are termed, so to speak, “reciprocal”45694569    ὡσπερεὶ τῶν καλουμένων ἀντιπεπονθότων ἐστίν. (compare the phrase “to shave a man,” when he makes an effort to submit himself to the barber45704570    ἀνάλογον τῷ κείρεσθαι ἄνθρωπον, ἐνεργοῦντα τὸ παρέχειν ἑαυτὸν τῷ κείροντι.), there is for this reason needed not merely the effort of him who persuades, but also the submission, so to speak, which is to be yielded to the persuader, or the acceptance of what is said by him.  And therefore it must not be said that it is because God is incapable of persuading men that they are not persuaded, but because they will not accept the faithful words of God.  And if one were to apply this expression to men who are the “artificers of persuasion,”45714571    πειθοῦς δημιουργῶν. he would not be wrong; for it is possible for a man who has thoroughly learned the principles of rhetoric, and who employs them properly, to do his utmost to persuade, and yet appear to fail, because he cannot overcome the will of him who ought to yield to his persuasive arts.  Moreover, that persuasion does not come from God, although persuasive words may be uttered by him, is distinctly taught by Paul, when he says:  “This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.”45724572    Cf. Gal. v. 8.  Such also is the view indicated by these words:  “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse and rebel, a sword shall devour you.”45734573    Cf. Isa. i. 19, 20.  For that one may (really) desire what is addressed to him by one who admonishes, and may become deserving of those promises of God which he hears, it is necessary to secure the will of the hearer, and his inclination to what is addressed to him.  And therefore it appears to me, that in the book of Deuteronomy the following words 601are uttered with peculiar emphasis:  “And now, O Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, and to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to keep His commandments?”45744574    Cf. Deut. x. 12, 13.

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