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Chapter XXXVI.

After these remarks of Celsus, which we have endeavoured to answer as we could, he goes on to say, speaking of us:  “Again they will ask, ‘How can we know God, unless by the perception of the senses? for how otherwise than through the senses are we able to gain any knowledge?’”  To this he replies:  “This is not the language of a man; it comes not from the soul, but from the flesh.  Let them hearken to us, if such a spiritless and carnal race are able to do so:  if, instead of exercising the senses, you look upwards with the soul; if, turning away the eye of the body, you open the eye of the mind, thus and thus only will you be able to see God.  And if you seek one to be your guide along this way, you must shun all deceivers and jugglers, who will introduce you to phantoms.  Otherwise you will be acting the most ridiculous part, if, whilst you pronounce imprecations upon those others that are recognised as gods, treating them as idols, you yet do homage to a more wretched idol than any of these, which indeed is not even an idol or a phantom, but a dead man, and you seek a father like to him.”  The first remark which we have to make on this passage is in regard to his use of personification, by which he makes us defend in this way the doctrine of the resurrection.  This figure of speech is properly employed when the character and sentiments of the person introduced are faithfully preserved; but it is an abuse of the figure when these do not agree with the character and opinions of the speaker.  Thus we should justly condemn a man who put into the mouths of barbarians, slaves, or uneducated people the language of philosophy; because we know that the philosophy belonged to the author, and not to such persons, who could not know anything of philosophy.  And in like manner we should condemn a man for introducing persons who are represented as wise and well versed in divine knowledge, and should make them give expression to language which could only come out of the mouths of those who are ignorant or under the influence of vulgar passions.  Hence Homer is admired, among other things, for preserving a consistency of character in his heroes, as in Nestor, Ulysses, Diomede, Agamemnon, Telemachus, Penelope, and the rest.  Euripides, on the contrary, was assailed in the comedies of Aristophanes as a frivolous talker, often putting into the mouth of a barbarian woman, a wretched slave, the wise maxims which he had learned from Anaxagoras or some other philosophers.

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