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Chapter V.—Sophonias Maintains that God Cannot Produce What is Unlike Himself.

And Sophonias said again:  “Your great patience, my lord Peter, gives us boldness to ask you many questions for the sake of accuracy.  Wherefore we make our inquiries with confidence in every direction.  I remember, then, that Simon said yesterday, in his discussion with you, that the evil one, if he was born of God, possesses in consequence the same substance as He does who sent him forth, and he ought to have been good, and not wicked.  But you answered that this was not always the case, since many wicked sons are born of good parents, as from Adam two unlike14931493    An emendation of Wieseler’s. sons were begotten, one of whom was bad and the other good.  And when Simon found fault with you for having used human examples, you answered that in this way we ought not to admit that God begets at all; for this also is a human example.  And I, Sophonias, admit that God begets; but I do not allow that He begets what is bad, even though the good among men beget bad children.  And do not imagine14941494    An emendation of Wieseler’s. that I am without reason attributing to God some of the qualities that distinguish men, and refusing to attribute others, when I grant that He begets, but do not allow that He begets what is unlike Himself.  For men, as you might expect, beget sons who are unlike them in their dispositions for the following reason.  Being composed of four parts, they change their bodies variously, according to the various changes of the year; and thus, the appropriate change either of increase or decrease taking place in the human body, each season destroys the harmonious combination.  Now, when the combinations do not always remain exactly in the same position, the seeds, having sometimes one combination, sometimes another, are sent off; and these are followed, according to the combination belonging to the season, by dispositions either good or bad.  But in the case of God we cannot suppose any such thing; for, being unchangeable and always existing, whenever He wishes to send forth, there is an absolute necessity that what is sent forth should be in all respects in the same position as that which has begotten, I mean in regard to substance and disposition.  But if any one should wish to maintain that He is changeable, I do not know how it is possible for him to maintain that He is immortal.”


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