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Chapter II.—Preliminaries.

“Since, therefore, you profess to be conversant with the position of the stars and the courses of the heavenly bodies, and that from these you can convince Clement that all things are subject to Genesis, or that you will learn from him that all things are governed by providence, and that we have something in our own power, it is now time for you two to set about this.”  To this the old man answered:  “Now indeed it was not necessary to raise questions of this kind, if it were possible for us to learn from the true Prophet, and to hear in a definite proposition, that anything depends on us and on the freedom of our will; for your yesterday’s discourse affected me greatly, in which you disputed concerning the prophetic power.835835    [Comp. book viii. 58–62.—R.]  Whence also I assent to and confirm your judgment, that nothing can be known by man with certainty, and without doubt, seeing that he has but a short period of life, and a brief and slender breath, by which he seems to be kept in life.  However, since I am understood to have promised to Clement, before I heard anything of the prophetic power, that I should show that all things are subject to Genesis, or that I should learn from him that there is something in ourselves, let him do me this favour, that he first begin, and propound and explain what may be objected:  for I, ever since I heard from you a few words concerning the power of prophecy, have, I confess, been confounded, considering the greatness of prescience; nor do I think that anything ought to be received which is collected from conjectures and opinion.”


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