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248Chapter XVII.—The Manichæan Idea of Virtue in Matter Scouted; If One Virtue Has Been Created Immaterial, the Rest are Also Immaterial; Material Virtue an Exploded Notion.

Moreover, how do they say, did God send divine virtue into matter? For if it always was, and neither is God to be understood as existing prior to it, nor matter either, then again, according to Manichæus, there are three first principles. Perhaps also, a little further on, there will appear to be many more. But if it be adventitious, and something which has come into existence afterwards, how is it void of matter? And if they make it to be a part of God, first, indeed, by this conception, they assert that God is composite and corporeal. But this is absurd, and impossible. And if He fashioned it, and is without matter, I wonder that they have not considered, neither the man himself, nor his disciples, that if (as the orthodox say, the things that come next in order subsist while God remains) God created this virtue of His own free-will, how is it that He is not the author of all other things that are made without the necessity of any pre-existent matter? The consequences, in truth, of this opinion are evidently absurd; but what does follow is put down next in order. Was it, then, the nature of this virtue to diffuse itself into matter? If it was contrary to its nature, in what manner is it intermingled with it? But if this was in accordance with its nature, it was altogether surely and always with matter. But if this be so, how is it that they call matter evil, which, from the beginning, was intermingled with the divine virtue? In what manner, too, will it be destroyed, the divine virtue which was mingled with it at some time or other seceding to itself? For that it preserves safely what is good, and likely to be productive of some other good to those to whom it is present, is more reasonable than that it should bring destruction or some other evil upon them.

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