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Chapter LIII.

Having said so much on this subject, let us proceed to another statement of Celsus:  “Since men are born united to a body, whether to suit the order of the universe, or that they may in that way suffer the punishment of sin; or because the soul is oppressed by certain passions until it is purged from these at the appointed period of time,—for, according to Empedocles, all mankind must be banished from the abodes of the blessed for 30,000 periods of time,—we must therefore believe that they are entrusted to certain beings as keepers of this prison-house.”  You will observe that Celsus, in these remarks, speaks of such weighty matters in the language of doubtful human conjecture.  He adds also various opinions as to the origin of man, and shows considerable reluctance to set down any of these opinions as false.  When he had once come to the conclusion neither indiscriminately to accept nor recklessly to reject the opinions held by the ancients, would it not have been in accordance with that same rule of judging, if, when he found himself not disposed to believe the doctrines taught by the Jewish prophets and by Jesus, at any rate to have held them as matters open to inquiry?  And should he not have considered whether it is very probable that a people who faithfully served the Most High God, and who ofttimes encountered numberless dangers, and even death, rather than sacrifice the honour of God, and what they believed to be the revelations of His will, should have been wholly overlooked by God?  Should it not rather be thought probable that people who despised the efforts of human art to represent the Divine Being, but strove rather to rise in thought to the knowledge of the Most High, should have been favoured with some revelation from Himself?  Besides, he ought to have considered that the common Father and Creator of all, who sees and hears all things, and who duly esteems the intention of every man who seeks Him and desires to serve Him, will grant unto these also some of the benefits of His rule, and will give them an enlargement of that knowledge of Himself which He has once bestowed upon them.  If this had been remembered by Celsus and the others who hate Moses and the Jewish prophets, and Jesus, and His faithful disciples, who endured so much for the sake of His word, they would not thus have reviled Moses, and the prophets, and Jesus, and His apostles; and they would not have singled out for their contempt the Jews beyond all the nations of the earth, and said they were worse even than the Egyptians,—a people who, either from superstition or some other form of delusion, went as far as they could in degrading the Divine Being to the level of brute beasts.  And we invite inquiry, not as though we wished to lead any to doubt regarding the truths of Christianity, but in order to show that it would be better for those who in every way revile the doctrines of Christianity, at any rate to suspend their judgment, and not so rashly to state about Jesus and His apostles such things as they do not know, and as they cannot prove, either by 661what the Stoics call “apprehensive perception,”49434943    καταληπτικὴ φαντασία. or by any other methods used by different sects of philosophers as criteria of truth.


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