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Chapter XVIII.

Celsus adds:  “Will they not besides make this reflection?  If the prophets of the God of the Jews foretold that he who should come into the world would be the Son of this same God, how could he command them through Moses to gather wealth, to extend their dominion, to fill the earth, to put their enemies of every age to the sword, and to destroy them utterly, which indeed he himself did—as Moses says—threatening them, moreover, that if they did not obey his commands, he would treat them as his avowed enemies; whilst, on the other hand, his Son, the man of Nazareth, promulgated laws quite op619posed to these, declaring that no one can come to the Father who loves power, or riches, or glory; that men ought not to be more careful in providing food than the ravens; that they were to be less concerned about their raiment than the lilies; that to him who has given them one blow, they should offer to receive another?  Whether is it Moses or Jesus who teaches falsely?  Did the Father, when he sent Jesus, forget the commands which he had given to Moses?  Or did he change his mind, condemn his own laws, and send forth a messenger with counter instructions?”  Celsus, with all his boasts of universal knowledge, has here fallen into the most vulgar of errors, in supposing that in the law and the prophets there is not a meaning deeper than that afforded by a literal rendering of the words.  He does not see how manifestly incredible it is that worldly riches should be promised to those who lead upright lives, when it is a matter of common observation that the best of men have lived in extreme poverty.  Indeed, the prophets themselves, who for the purity of their lives received the Divine Spirit, “wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented:  they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”47054705    Heb. xi. 37, 38.  For, as the Psalmist, says, “many are the afflictions of the righteous.”47064706    Ps. xxiv. 19.  If Celsus had read the writings of Moses, he would, I daresay, have supposed that when it is said to him who kept the law, “Thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou thyself shalt not borrow,”47074707    Deut. xxviii. 12. the promise is made to the just man, that his temporal riches should be so abundant, that he would be able to lend not only to the Jews, not only to two or three nations, but “to many nations.”  What, then, must have been the wealth which the just man received according to the law for his righteousness, if he could lend to many nations?  And must we not suppose also, in accordance with this interpretation, that the just man would never borrow anything?  For it is written, “and thou shalt thyself borrow nothing.”  Did then that nation remain for so long a period attached to the religion which was taught by Moses, whilst, according to the supposition of Celsus, they saw themselves so grievously deceived by that lawgiver?  For nowhere is it said of any one that he was so rich as to lend to many nations.  It is not to be believed that they would have fought so zealously in defence of a law whose promises had proved glaringly false, if they understood them in the sense which Celsus gives to them.  And if any one should say that the sins which are recorded to have been committed by the people are a proof that they despised the law, doubtless from the feeling that they had been deceived by it, we may reply that we have only to read the history of the times in order to find it shown that the whole people, after having done that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, returned afterwards to their duty, and to the religion prescribed by the law.


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