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65. Nay, my opponent says, if God is powerful, merciful, willing to save us, let Him change our dispositions, and compel us to trust in His promises. This, then, is violence, not kindness nor the bounty of the Supreme God, but a childish 459and vain38543854 So most edd., reading inanis for the ms. animi; retained, though not very intelligible, in LB., while Hild. reads anilis—“foolish.” strife in seeking to get the mastery. For what is so unjust as to force men who are reluctant and unwilling, to reverse their inclinations; to impress forcibly on their minds what they are unwilling to receive, and shrink from; to injure before benefiting, and to bring to another way of thinking and feeling, by taking away the former? You who wish yourself to be changed,38553855 So the ms. now reads verti; but this word, according to Pithœus, is in a later handwriting, and some letters have been erased. and to suffer violence, that you may do and may be compelled to take to yourself that which you do not wish, why do you refuse of your own accord to select that which you wish to do, when changed and transformed? I am unwilling, He says, and have no wish. What, then, do you blame God as though He failed you? do you wish Him to bring you help,38563856 So the edd., reading tibi desit? opem desideras tibi, except Hild. and Oehler, who retain the ms. reading, t. d. o. desideranti—“as though He failed you desiring Him to bring help.” whose gifts and bounties you not only reject and shun, but term empty38573857 So Ursinus, reading in ania cognomines for the ms. in alia, which Orelli would interpret, “call the reverse of the truth.” words, and assail with jocose witticisms? Unless, then, my opponent says, I shall be a Christian, I cannot hope for salvation. It is just as you yourself say. For, to bring salvation and impart to souls what should be bestowed and must be added, Christ alone has had given into His charge and entrusted38583858 Lit., “For the parts of bringing…has enjoined and given over,” partes…injunctum habet et traditum, where it will be important to notice that Arnobius, writing rapidly, had carried with him only the general idea, and forgotten the mode in which this was expressed. to Him by God the Father, the remote and more secret causes being so disposed. For, as with you, certain gods have fixed offices, privileges, powers, and you do not ask from any of them what is not in his power and permitted to him, so it is the right of38593859 Pontificium. Christ alone to give salvation to souls, and assign them everlasting life. For if you believe that father Bacchus can give a good vintage, but cannot give relief from sickness; if you believe that Ceres can give good crops, Æsculapius health, Neptune one thing, Juno38603860 Here, too, according to Pithœus, there are signs of erasure. another, that Fortune, Mercury, Vulcan, are each the giver of a fixed and particular thing,—this, too, you must needs receive from us,38613861 i.e., admit. that souls can receive from no one life and salvation, except from Him to whom the Supreme Ruler gave this charge and duty. The Almighty Master of the world has determined that this should be the way of salvation,—this the door, so to say, of life; by Him38623862 This passage at once suggests John x. 9 and xiv. 6, and it is therefore the more necessary to notice the way in which Arnobius speaks (“so to say”), which is certainly not the tone of one quoting a passage with which he is well acquainted. [Elucidation I.] alone is there access to the light: nor may men either creep in or enter elsewhere, all other ways being shut up and secured by an impenetrable barrier.
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