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36. But the gods are said to be immortal. Not by nature, then, but by the good-will and favour of God their Father. In the same way, then, in which the boon36493649 The ms. reading is utterly corrupt and meaningless—immortalitatis largiter est donum dei certa prolatis. Gelenius, followed by Canterus, Oberthür, and Orelli, emended largi-tio…certe, as above. The two Roman edd. read, -tatem largitus…certam—“bestowed, assured immortality as God’s gift on,” etc. of immortality is God’s gift to these who were assuredly produced,36503650 i.e., who must therefore have received it if they have it at all. will He deign to confer eternal life upon souls also, although fell death seems able to cut them off and blot them out of existence in utter annihilation.36513651 Lit., “out, reduced to nothing with annihilation, not to be returned from.” The divine Plato, many of whose thoughts are worthy of God, and not such as the vulgar hold, in that discussion and treatise entitled the Timæus, says that the gods and the world are corruptible by nature, and in no wise beyond the reach of death, but that their being is ever maintained36523652 Lit., “they are held in a lasting bond,” i.e., of being. by the will of God, their King and Prince;36533653 Plato makes the supreme God, creator of the inferior deities, assure these lesser gods that their created nature being in itself subject to dissolution, His will is a surer ground on which to rely for immortality, than the substance or mode of their own being (Timæus, st. p. 41; translated by Cicero, de Univ., xi., and criticised de Nat. Deor., i. 8 and iii. 12). for that that even which has been duly clasped and bound together by the surest bands is preserved only by God’s good448ness; and that by no other than36543654 The ms. and both Roman edd. read neque ullo ab-olitio-nis unintelligibly, for which Gelenius proposed nexusque abolitione—“and by the destruction of the bond;” but the much more suitable reading in the margin of Ursinus, translated above, ullo ab alio nis-i, has been adopted by later edd. by Him who bound their elements together can they both be dissolved if necessary, and have the command given which preserves their being.36553655 Lit., “be gifted with a saving order.” So the ms., reading salutari iussione, followed by both Rom. edd.; LB. and Orelli read vinctione—“bond;” Gelenius, Canterus, Elmenh., and Oberthür, m-issione—“dismissal.” If this is the case, then, and it is not fitting to think or believe otherwise, why do you wonder that we speak of the soul as neutral in its character, when Plato says that it is so even with the deities,36563656 Lit., “that to the gods themselves the natures are intermediate.” but that their life is kept up by God’s36573657 Lit., “supreme”—principali. grace, without break or end? For if by chance you knew it not, and because of its novelty it was unknown to you before, now, though late, receive and learn from Him who knows and has made it known, Christ, that souls are not the children of the Supreme Ruler, and did not begin to be self-conscious, and to be spoken of in their own special character after being created by Him;36583658 Cf. i. 48. On this passage Orelli quotes Irenæus, i. 21, where are enumerated several gnostic theories of the creation of the world and men by angels, who are themselves created by the “one unknown Father.” Arnobius is thought, both by Orelli and others, to share in these opinions, and in this discussion to hint at them, but obscurely, lest his cosmology should be confounded by the Gentiles with their own polytheistic system. It seems much more natural to suppose that we have here the indefinite statement of opinions not thoroughly digested. but that some other is their parent, far enough removed from the chief in rank and power, of His court, however, and distinguished by His high and exalted birthright.
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