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49. And since you compare Christ and the other deities as to the blessings of health bestowed, how many thousands of infirm persons 427do you wish to be shown to you by us; how many persons affected with wasting diseases, whom no appliances whatever restored, although they went as suppliants through all the temples, although they prostrated themselves before the gods, and swept the very thresholds with their lips—though, as long as life remained, they wearied with prayers, and importuned with most piteous vows Æsculapius himself, the health-giver, as they call him? Do we not know that some died of their ailments? that others grew old by the torturing pain of their diseases? that others began to live a more abandoned life after they had wasted their days33383338    So the edd. reading tri-v-erunt, for the ms. tri-bu-erunt—“given up,” which is retained in the first ed. and nights in incessant prayers, and in expectation of mercy?33393339    Pietatis, “of mercy,” in which sense the word is often used in late writers. Thus it was from his clemency that Antoninus, the Roman emperor, received the title of Pius. Of what avail is it, then, to point to one or another who may have been healed, when so many thousands have been left unaided, and the shrines are full of all the wretched and the unfortunate? Unless, perchance, you say that the gods help the good, but that the miseries of the wicked are overlooked. And yet Christ assisted the good and the bad alike; nor was there any one rejected by Him, who in adversity sought help against violence and the ills of fortune. For this is the mark of a true god and of kingly power, to deny his bounty to none, and not to consider who merits it or who does not; since natural infirmity and not the choice of his desire, or of his sober judgment, makes a sinner. To say, moreover, that aid is given by the gods to the deserving when in distress, is to leave undecided and render doubtful what you assert: so that both he who has been made whole may seem to have been preserved by chance, and he who is not may appear to have been unable to banish infirmity, not because of his demerit, but by reason of a heaven-sent weakness.33403340    So most edd., following a marginal reading of Ursinus, which prefixes in—to the ms. firmitate.


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