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Chapter X.

He next continues:  “You see how Plato, although maintaining that (the chief good) cannot be described in words, yet, to avoid the appearance of retreating to an irrefutable position, subjoins a reason in explanation of this difficulty, as even ‘nothing’43254325    τὸ μηδέν. might perhaps be explained in words.”  But as Celsus adduces this to prove that we ought not to yield a simple assent, but to furnish a reason for our belief, we shall quote also the words of Paul, where he says, in censuring the hasty43264326    εἰκῆ πιστεύοντι. believer, “unless ye have believed inconsiderately.”43274327    1 Cor. xv. 2.  Now, through his practice of repeating himself, Celsus, so far as he can, forces us to be guilty of tautology, reiterating, after the boastful language which has been quoted, that “Plato is not guilty of boasting and falsehood, giving out that he has made some new discovery, or that he has come down from heaven to announce it, but acknowledges whence these statements are derived.”  Now, if one wished to reply to Celsus, one might say in answer to such assertions, that even Plato is guilty of boasting, when in the Timæus43284328    [p. 41.  S.] he puts the following language in the month of Zeus:  “Gods of gods, whose creator and father I am,” and so on.  And if any one will defend such language on account of the meaning which is conveyed under the name of Zeus, thus speaking in the dialogue of Plato, why should not he who investigates the meaning of the words of the Son of God, or those of the Creator43294329    τοῦ δημιουργοῦ. in the prophets, express a profounder meaning than any conveyed by the words of Zeus in the Timæus?  For the characteristic of divinity is the announcement of future events, predicted not by human power, but shown by the result to be due to a divine spirit in him who made the announcement.  Accordingly, we do not say to each of our hearers, “Believe, first of all, that He whom I introduce to thee is the Son of God;” but we put the Gospel before each one, as his character and disposition may fit him to receive it, inasmuch as we have learned to know “how we ought to answer every man.”43304330    Cf. Col. iv. 6.  And there are some who are capable of receiving nothing more than an exhortation to believe, and to these we address that alone; while we approach others, again, as far as possible, in the way of demonstration, by means of question and answer.  Nor do we at all say, as Celsus scoffingly alleges, “Believe that he whom I introduce to thee is the Son of God, although he was shamefully bound, and disgracefully punished, and very recently43314331    χθὲς καὶ πρώην. was most contumeliously treated before the eyes of all men;” neither do we add, “Believe it even the more (on that account).”  For it is our endeavour to state, on each individual point, arguments more numerous even than we have brought forward in the preceding pages.


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