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Chapter XVIII.—Is the Devil a Relation?

And Peter said:  “What you state is impossible; for if he came into existence by degrees, 336He could have cut him off as a foe by His own free choice.  And knowing beforehand that he was coming into existence, He would not have allowed him as a good, had He not known that by reason of him what was useful was being brought into existence.14471447    The editors punctuate differently, thus:  “And knowing beforehand that he was becoming not good, He would not have allowed him, unless He knew that he would be useful to Himself.”  We suppose the reference in the text to be to Gen. i. 31.  And he could not have come into existence suddenly, complete, of his own power.  For he who did not exist could not fashion himself; and he neither could become complete out of nothing, nor could any one justly say that he had substance,14481448    Or, “self-subsistence.”  We have supposed a transposition of the words in the text.  The text is without doubt corrupt. so as always to be equal in power if he were begotten.”  And Simon said:  “Is he then a mere relation, and in this way wicked?14491449    We have adopted an emendation of Lagarde’s.—being injurious, as water is injurious to fire, but good for the seasonably thirsty land; as iron is good for the cultivation of the land, but bad for murders; and lust is not evil in respect of marriage, but bad in respect of adultery; as murder is an evil, but good for the murderer so far as his purpose is concerned; and cheating is an evil, but pleasant to the man who cheats; and other things of a like character are good and bad in like manner.  In this way, neither is evil, nor good; for the one produces the other.  For does not that which seems to be done injuriously rejoice the doer, but punish the sufferer?  And though it seems unjust that a man should, out of self-love, gratify himself by every means in his power, to whom, on the other hand, does it not seem unjust that a man should suffer severe punishments at the hand of a just judge for having loved himself?”

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