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Chapter XLIV.

Celsus supposes that we may arrive at a knowledge of God either by combining or separating certain things after the methods which mathematicians call synthesis and analysis, or again by analogy, which is employed by them also, and that in this way we may as it were gain admission to the chief good.  But when the Word of God says, “No man knoweth the Father but the Son, 630and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him,”47834783    Matt. xi. 27. He declares that no one can know God but by the help of divine grace coming from above, with a certain divine inspiration.  Indeed, it is reasonable to suppose that the knowledge of God is beyond the reach of human nature, and hence the many errors into which men have fallen in their views of God.  It is, then, through the goodness and love of God to mankind, and by a marvellous exercise of divine grace to those whom He saw in His foreknowledge, and knew that they would walk worthy of Him who had made Himself known to them, and that they would never swerve from a faithful attachment to His service, although they were condemned to death or held up to ridicule by those who, in ignorance of what true religion is, give that name to what deserves to be called anything rather than religion.  God doubtless saw the pride and arrogance of those who, with contempt for all others, boast of their knowledge of God, and of their profound acquaintance with divine things obtained from philosophy, but who still, not less even than the most ignorant, run after their images, and temples, and famous mysteries; and seeing this, He “has chosen the foolish things of this world”47844784    1 Cor. i. 27.—the simplest of Christians, who lead, however, a life of greater moderation and purity than many philosophers—“to confound the wise,” who are not ashamed to address inanimate things as gods or images of the gods.  For what reasonable man can refrain from smiling when he sees that one who has learned from philosophy such profound and noble sentiments about God or the gods, turns straightway to images and offers to them his prayers, or imagines that by gazing upon these material things he can ascend from the visible symbol to that which is spiritual and immaterial.47854785    [Vol. ii. p. 186, this series.]  But a Christian, even of the common people, is assured that every place forms part of the universe, and that the whole universe is God’s temple.  In whatever part of the world he is, he prays; but he rises above the universe, “shutting the eyes of sense, and raising upwards the eyes of the soul.”  And he stops not at the vault of heaven; but passing in thought beyond the heavens, under the guidance of the Spirit of God, and having thus as it were gone beyond the visible universe, he offers prayers to God.  But he prays for no trivial blessings, for he has learnt from Jesus to seek for nothing small or mean, that is, sensible objects, but to ask only for what is great and truly divine; and these things God grants to us, to lead us to that blessedness which is found only with Him through His Son, the Word, who is God.


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