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Chapter XXII.—Responsibility.

Then Simon said:  “I know not whether I know even this; for every one, according as it is decreed to him by fate, either does, or understands, or suffers.”  Then Peter said:  “See, my brethren, into what absurdities Simon has fallen, who before my coming was teaching that men have it in their power to be wise and to do what they will, but now, driven into a corner by the force of my arguments, he denies that man has any power either of perceiving or of acting; and yet he presumes to profess himself to be a teacher!  But tell me how then God judges according to truth every one for his doings, if men have it not in their own power to do anything?  If this opinion be held, all things are torn up by the roots; vain will be the desire of following after goodness; yea, even in vain do the judges of the world administer laws and punish those who do amiss, for they had it not in their power not to sin; vain also will be the laws of nations which assign penalties to evil deeds.  Miserable also will those be who laboriously keep righteousness; but blessed those who, living in pleasure, exercise tyranny, living in luxury and wickedness.  According to this, therefore, there can be neither righteousness, nor goodness, nor any virtue, nor, as you would have it, any God.  But, O Simon, I know why you have spoken thus:  truly because you wished to avoid inquiry, lest you should be openly confuted; and therefore you say that it is not in the power of man to perceive or to discern anything.  But if this had really been your opinion, you would not surely, before my coming, have professed yourself before the people to be a teacher.  I say, therefore, that man is under his own control.”  Then said Simon:  “What is the meaning of being under his own control?  Tell us.”  To this Peter:  “If nothing can be learned, why do you wish to hear?”  And Simon said:  “You have nothing to answer to this.”

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