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22Argument II.—He Essays to Speak of the Well-Nigh Divine Endowments of Origen in His Presence, into Whose Hands He Avows Himself to Have Been Led in a Way Beyond All His Expectation.
But we, like any of the poor, unfurnished with these varied specifics161161 φαρμάκων.—whether as never having been possessed of them, or, it may be, as having lost them—are under the necessity of using, as it were, only charcoal and tiles, that is to say, those rude and common words and phrases; and by means of these, to the best of our ability, we represent the native dispositions of our mind, expressing them in such language as is at our service, and endeavouring to exhibit the impressions of the figures162162 χαρακτῆρας τῶν τῆς ψυχῆς τύπων. of our mind, if not clearly or ornately, yet at least with the faithfulness of a charcoal picture, welcoming gladly any graceful and eloquent expression which may present itself from any quarter, although we make little of such.163163 ἀσπασάμενοι ἡδέως, ἐπεὶ καὶ περιφρονήσαντες. The passage is considered by some to be mutilated. But, furthermore,164164 The text is, ἀλλὰ γὰρ ἐκ τρίτων αὖθις ἄλλως κωλύει,, etc. For ἄλλως Hœschelius gives ἄλλα δή, Bengel follows him, and renders it, sed rursum, tertio loco, aliud est quod prohibet. Delarue proposes, ἀλλὰ γὰρ ἓν τρίτον αὖθις ἄλλως κωλύει. there is a third circumstance which hinders and dissuades me from this attempt, and which holds me back much more even than the others, and recommends me to keep silence by all means,—I allude to the subject itself, which made me indeed ambitious to speak of it, but which now makes me draw back and delay. For it is my purpose to speak of one who has indeed the semblance and repute of being a man, but who seems, to those who are able to contemplate the greatness of his intellectual calibre,165165 τὸ δὲ πολὺ τῆς ἕξεως. to be endowed with powers nobler and well-nigh divine.166166 This is the rendering according to the Latin version. The text is, ἀπεσκευασμένου ἤδη μείζονι παρασκευῇ μεταναστάσεως τῆς πρὸς τό θεῖον. Vossius reads, μετ᾽ ἀναστάσεως. And it is not his birth or bodily training that I am about to praise, and that makes me now delay and procrastinate with an excess of caution. Nor, again, is it his strength or beauty; for these form the eulogies of youths, of which it matters little whether the utterance be worthy or not.167167 ὧν ἥττων φροντις κατ᾽ ἀξίαν τε καὶ μὴ, λεγομένων. For, to make an oration on matters of a temporary and fugitive nature, which perish in many various ways and quickly, and to discourse of these with all the grandeur and dignity of great affairs, and with such timorous delays, would seem a vain and futile procedure.168168 The text is, μὴ καὶ ψυχρὸν ἢ πέρπερον ᾖ, where, according to Bengel, μή has the force of ut non dicam. And certainly, if it had been proposed to me to speak of any of those things which are useless and unsubstantial, and such as I should never voluntarily have thought of speaking of,—if, I say, it had been proposed to me to speak of anything of that character, my speech would have had none of this caution or fear, lest in any statement I might seem to come beneath the merit of the subject. But now, my subject dealing with that which is most godlike in the man, and that in him which has most affinity with God, that which is indeed confined within the limits of this visible and mortal form, but which strains nevertheless most ardently after the likeness of God; and my object being to make mention of this, and to put my hand to weightier matters, and therein also to express my thanksgivings to the Godhead, in that it has been granted to me to meet with such a man beyond the expectation of men,—the expectation, verily, not only of others, but also of my own heart, for I neither set such a privilege before me at any time, nor hoped for it; it being, I say, my object, insignificant and altogether without understanding as I am, to put my hand to such subjects, it is not without reason169169 But the text reads, οὐκ εὐλόγως. that I shrink from the task, and hesitate, and desire to keep silence. And, in truth, to keep silence seems to me to be also the safe course, lest, with the show of an expression of thanksgiving, I may chance, in my rashness, to discourse of noble and sacred subjects in terms ignoble and paltry and utterly trite, and thus not only miss attaining the truth, but even, so far as it depends on me, do it some injury with those who may believe that it stands in such a category, when a discourse which is weak is composed thereon, and is rather calculated to excite ridicule than to prove itself commensurate in its vigour with the dignity of its themes. But all that pertains to thee is beyond the touch of injury and ridicule, O dear soul; or, much rather let me say, that the divine herein remains ever as it is, unmoved and harmed in nothing by our paltry and unworthy words. Yet I know not how we shall escape the imputation of boldness and rashness in thus attempting in our folly, and with little either of intelligence or of preparation, to handle matters which are weighty, and probably beyond our capacity. And if, indeed, elsewhere and with others, we had aspired to make such youthful endeavours in matters like these, we would surely have been bold and daring; nevertheless in such a case our rashness might not have been ascribed to shamelessness, in so far as we should not have been making the bold effort with thee. But now we shall be filling out the whole measure of senselessness, or rather indeed we have already filled it out, in venturing with unwashed feet (as the saying goes) to introduce ourselves to ears into which the Divine Word Himself—not indeed with covered feet, as is the case with the general mass 23of men, and, as it were, under the thick coverings of enigmatical and obscure170170 ἀσαφῶν. But Ger. Voss has ἀσφαλῶν, safe. sayings, but with unsandalled feet (if one may so speak)—has made His way clearly and perspicuously, and in which He now sojourns; while we, who have but refuse and mud to offer in these human words of ours, have been bold enough to pour them into ears which are practised in hearing only words that are divine and pure. It might indeed suffice us, therefore, to have transgressed thus far; and now, at least, it might be but right to restrain ourselves, and to advance no further with our discourse. And verily I would stop here most gladly. Nevertheless, as I have once made the rash venture, it may be allowed me first of all to explain the reason under the force of which I have been led into this arduous enterprise, if indeed any pardon can be extended to me for my forwardness in this matter.
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