Origen (Cont.)Origen (Cont.)

Book III. (C0nt.)

Chap. LIX.

Immediately after this, Celsus, perceiving that he has slandered us with too great bitterness, as if by way of defence expresses himself as follows: “That I bring no heavier charge than what the truth compels me, any one may see from the following remarks. Those who invite to participation in other mysteries, make proclamation as follows: ‘Every one who has clean hands, and a prudent tongue;’141 others again thus: ‘He who is pure from all pollution, and whose soul is conscious of no evil, and who has lived well and justly.’ Such is the proclamation made by those who promise purification from sins.142 But let us hear what kind of persons these Christians invite. Every one, they say, who is a sinner, who is devoid of understanding, who is a child, and, to speak generally, whoever is unfortunate, him will the kingdom of God receive. Do you not call him a sinner, then, who is unjust, and a thief, and a housebreaker, and a poisoner, and a committer of sacrilege, and a robber of the dead? What others would a man invite if he were issuing a proclamation for an assembly of robbers?” Now, in answer to such statements, we say that it is not the same thing to invite those who are sick in soul to be cured, and those who are in health to the knowledge and study of divine things. We, however, keeping both these things in view, at first invite all men to be healed, and exhort those who are sinners to come to the consideration of the doctrines which teach men not to sin, and those who are devoid of understanding to those which beget wisdom, and those who are children to rise in their thoughts to manhood, and those who are simply143 unfortunate to good fortune,144 or – which is the more appropriate term to use – to blessedness.145 And when those who have been turned towards virtue have made progress, and have shown that they have been purified by the word, and have led as far as they can a better life, then and not before do we invite them to participation in our mysteries. “For we speak wisdom among them that are perfect.” (cf. 1Co_2:6)


Chap. LX.

And as we teach, moreover, that “wisdom will not enter into the soul of a base man, nor dwell in a body that is involved in sin,” (Wisdom of Solomon 1:4) we say, Whoever has clean hands, and therefore lifts up holy hands to God, and by reason of being occupied with elevated and heavenly things, can say, “The lifting up of my hands is as the evening sacrifice,’ (cf. Psa_141:2) let him come to us; and whoever has a wise tongue through meditating on the law of the Lord day and night, and by “reason of habit has his senses exercised to discern between good and evil,” let him have no reluctance in coming to the strong and rational sustenance which is adapted to those who are athletes in piety and every virtue. And since the grace of God is with all those who love with a pure affection the teacher of the doctrines of immortality, whoever is pure not only from all defilement, but from what are regarded as lesser transgressions, let him be boldly initiated in the mysteries of Jesus, which properly are made known only to the holy and the pure. The initiated of Celsus accordingly says, “Let him whose soul is conscious of no evil come.” But he who acts as initiator, according to the precepts of Jesus, will say to those who have been purified in heart, “He whose soul has, for a long time, been conscious of no evil, and especially since he yielded himself to the healing of the word, let such an one hear the doctrines which were spoken in private by Jesus to His genuine disciples.” Therefore in the comparison which he institutes between the procedure of the initiators into the Grecian mysteries, and the teachers of the doctrine of Jesus, he does not know the difference between inviting the wicked to be healed, and initiating those already purified into the sacred mysteries!


Chap. LXI.

Not to participation in mysteries, then, and to fellowship in the wisdom hidden in a mystery, which God ordained before the world to the glory of His saints, (cf. 1Co_2:7) do we invite the wicked man, and the thief, and the housebreaker, and the poisoner, and the committer of sacrilege, and the plunderer of the dead, and all those others whom Celsus may enumerate in his exaggerating style, but such as these we invite to be healed. For there are in the divinity of the word some helps towards the cure of those who are sick, respecting which the word says, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick;” (Mat_9:12) others, gain, which to the pure in soul and body exhibit “the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest by the Scriptures of the prophets,” (Rom_16:25, Rom_16:26) and “by the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (cf. 2Ti_1:10) which “appearing” is manifested to each one of those who are perfect, and which enlightens the reason146 in the true” knowledge147 of things. But as he exaggerates the charges against us, adding, after his list of those vile individuals whom he has mentioned, this remark, “What other persons would a robber summon to himself by proclamation?” we answer such a question by saying that a robber summons around him individuals of such a character, in order to make use of their villainy against the men whom they desire to slay and plunder. A Christian, on the other hand, even though he invite those whom the robber invites, invites them to a very different vocation, viz. to bind up these wounds by His word, and to apply to the soul, festering amid evils, the drugs obtained from the word, and which are analogous to the wine and oil, and plasters, and other healing appliances which belong to the art of medicine.


Chap. LXII.

In the next place, throwing a slur148 upon the exhortations spoken and written to those who have led wicked lives, and which invite them to repentance and reformation of heart, he asserts that we say “that it was to sinners that God has been sent.” Now this statement of his is much the same as if he were to find fault with certain persons for saying that on account of the sick who were living in a city, a physician had been sent them by a very benevolent monarch.149 God the Word was sent, indeed, as a physician to sinners, but as a teacher of divine mysteries to those who are already pure and who sin no more. But Celsus, unable to see this distinction, – for he had no desire to be animated with a love of truth, – remarks, “Why was he not sent to those who were without sin? What evil is it not to have committed sin?” To which we reply, that if by those “who were without sin” he means those who sin no more, then our Saviour Jesus was sent even to such, but not as a physician. While if by those “who were without sin” he means such as have never at any time sinned, – for he made no distinction in his statement, – we reply that it is impossible for a man thus to be without sin. And this we say, excepting, of course, the man understood to be in Christ Jesus,150 who “did no sin.” It is with a malicious intent, indeed, that Celsus says of us that we assert that “God will receive the unrighteousness man if he humble himself on account of his wickedness, but that He will not receive the righteous man, although he look up to Him, (adorned) with virtue from the beginning.” Now we assert that it is impossible for a man to look up to God (adorned) with virtue from the beginning. For wickedness must necessarily first exist in men. As Paul also says, “When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” (Rom_7:9) Moreover, we do not teach regarding the unrighteous man, that it is sufficient for him to humble himself on account of his wickedness in order to his being accepted by God, but that God will accept him if, after passing condemnation upon himself for his past conduct, he walk humbly on account of it, and in a becoming manner for the time to come.


Chap. LXIII.

After this, not understanding how it has been said that “every one who exalted himself shall be abased;” (cf. Mat_23:12) nor (although taught even by Plato) that “the good and virtuous man walketh humbly and orderly;” and ignorant, moreover, that we give the injunction, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time;” (1Pe_5:6) he says that “those persons who preside properly over a trial make those individuals who bewail before them their evil deeds to cease from their piteous wailings, lest their decisions should be determined rather by compassion than by a regard to truth; whereas God does not decide in accordance with truth, but in accordance with flattery.”151 Now, what words of flattery and piteous wailing are contained in the Holy Scriptures when the sinner says in his prayers to God, “I have acknowledged my sin, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgression to the Lord,” etc., etc.? For is he able to show that a procedure of this kind is not adapted to the conversion of sinners, who humble themselves in their prayers under the hand of God? And, becoming confused by his efforts to accuse us, he contradicts himself; appearing at one time to know a man “without sin,” and “a righteous man, who can look up to God (adorned) with virtue from the beginning;” and at another time accepting our statement that there is no man altogether righteous, or without sin;152 for, as if he admitted its truth, he remarks, “This is indeed apparently true, that somehow the human race is naturally inclined to sin.” In the next place, as if all men were not invited by the word, he says, “All men, then, without distinction, ought to be invited, since all indeed are sinners.” And yet, in the preceding pages, we have pointed out the words of Jesus: “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mat_11:28) All men, therefore, labouring and being heavy laden on account of the nature of sin, are invited to the rest spoken of in the word of God, “for God sent His word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” (Psa_107:20)


Chap. LXIV.

But since he says, in addition to this, “What is this preference of sinners over others?” and makes other remarks of a similar nature, we have to reply that absolutely a sinner is not preferred before one who is not a sinner; but that sometimes a sinner, who has become conscious of his own sin, and for that reason comes to repentance, being humbled on account of his sins, is preferred before one who is accounted a lesser sinner, but who does not consider himself one, but exalts himself on the ground of certain good qualities which he thinks he possesses, and is greatly elated on their account. And this is manifest to those who are willing to peruse the Gospels in a spirit of fairness, by the parable of the publican, who said, “Be merciful to me a sinner,” (Luk_18:13) and of the Pharisee who boasted with a certain wicked self-conceit in the words, “I thank Thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” (Luk_18:11) For Jesus subjoins to his narrative of them both the words: “This man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luk_18:14) We utter no blasphemy, then, against God, neither are we guilty of falsehood, when we teach that every man, whoever he may be, is conscious of human infirmity in comparison with the greatness of God, and that we must ever ask from Him, who alone is able to supply our deficiencies, what is wanting to our (mortal) nature.


Chap. LXV.

He imagines, however, that we utter these exhortations for the conversion of sinners, because we are able to gain over no one who is really good and righteous, and therefore open our gates to the most unholy and abandoned of men. But if any one will fairly observe our assemblies we can present a greater number of those who have been converted from not a very wicked life, than of those who have committed the most abominable sins. For naturally those who are conscious to themselves of better things, desire that those promises may be true which are declared by God regarding the reward of the righteous, and thus assent more readily to the statements (of Scripture) than those do who have led very wicked lives, and who are prevented by their very consciousness (of evil) from admitting that they will be punished by the Judge of all with such punishment as befits those who have sinned so greatly, and as would not be inflicted by the Judge of all contrary to right reason.153 Sometimes, also, when very abandoned men are willing to accept the doctrine of (future) punishment, on account of the hope which is based upon repentance, they are prevented from so doing by their habit of sinning, being constantly dipped,154 and, as it were, dyed155 in wickedness, and possessing no longer the power to turn from it easily to a proper life, and one regulated according to right reason. And although Celsus observes this, he nevertheless, I know not why, expresses himself in the following terms: “And yet, indeed, it is manifest to every one that no one by chastisement, much less by merciful treatment, could effect a complete change in those who are sinners both by nature and custom, for to change nature is an exceedingly difficult thing. But they who are without sin are partaken of a better life.”


Chap. LXVI.

Now here Celsus appears to me to have committed a great error, in refusing to those who are sinners by nature, and also by habit, the possibility of a complete transformation, alleging that they cannot be cured even by punishment. For it clearly appears that all men are inclined to sin by nature,156 and some not only by nature but by practice, while not all men are incapable of an entire transformation. For there are found in every philosophical sect, and in the word of God, persons who are related to have undergone so great a change that they may be proposed as a model of excellence of life. Among the names of the heroic age some mention Hercules and Ulysses, among those of later times, Socrates, and of those who have lived very recently, Musonius.157 Not only against us, then, did Celsus utter the calumny, when he said that “it was manifest to every one that those who were given to sin by nature and habit could not by any means – even by punishments – be completely changed for the better,” but also against the noblest names in philosophy, who have not denied that the recovery of virtue was a possible thing for men. But although he did not express his meaning with exactness, we shall nevertheless, though giving his words a more favourable construction, convict him of unsound reasoning. For his words were: “Those who are inclined to sin by nature and habit, no one could completely reform even by chastisement;” and his words, as we understood them, we refuted to the best of our ability.158


Chap. LXVII.

It is probable, however, that he meant to convey some such meaning as this, that those who were both by nature and habit given to the commission of those sins which are committed by the most abandoned of men, could not be completely transformed even by punishment. And yet this is shown to be false from the history of certain philosophers. For who is there that would not rank among the most abandoned of men the individual who somehow submitted to yield himself to his master, when he placed him in a brothel,159 that he might allow himself to be polluted by any one who liked? And yet such a circumstance is related of Phaedo! And who will not agree that he who burst, accompanied with a flute-player and a party of revellers, his profligate associates, into the school of the venerable Xenocrates, to insult a man who was the admiration of his friends, was not one of the greatest miscreants160 among mankind? Yet, notwithstanding this, reason was powerful enough to effect their conversion, and to enable them to make such progress in philosophy, that the one was deemed worthy by Plato to recount the discourse of Socrates on immortality, and to record his firmness in prison, when he evinced his contempt of the hemlock, and with all fearlessness and tranquillity of mind treated of subjects so numerous and important, that it is difficult even for those to follow them who are giving their utmost attention, and who are disturbed by no distraction; while Polemon, on the other hand, who from a profligate became a man of most temperate life, was successor in the school of Xenocrates, so celebrated for his venerable character. Celsus then does not speak the truth when he says “that sinners by nature and habit cannot be completely reformed even by chastisement.”



That philosophical discourses, however, distinguished by orderly arrangement and elegant expression,161 should produce such results in the case of those individuals just enumerated, and upon others162 who have led wicked lives, is not at all to be wondered at. But when we consider that those discourses, which Celsus terms “vulgar,”163 are filled with power, as if they were spells, and see that they at once convert multitudes from a life of licentiousness to one of extreme regularity,164 and from a life of wickedness to a better, and from a state of cowardice or unmanliness to one of such high-toned courage as to lead men to despise even death through the piety which shows itself within them, why should we not justly admire the power which they contain? For the words of those who at the first assumed the office of (Christian) ambassadors, and who gave their labours to rear up the Churches of God, – nay, their preaching also, – were accompanied with a persuasive power, though not like that found among those who profess the philosophy of Plato, or of any other merely human philosopher, which possesses no other qualities than those of human nature. But the demonstration which followed the words of the apostles of Jesus was given from God, and was accredited165 by the Spirit and by power. And therefore their word ran swiftly and speedily, or rather the word of God through their instrumentality, transformed numbers of persons who had been sinners both by nature and habit, whom no one could have reformed by punishment, but who were changed by the word, which moulded and transformed them according to its pleasure.


Chap. LXIX.

Celsus continues in his usual manner, asserting that “to change a nature entirely is exceedingly difficult.” We, however, who know of only one nature in every rational soul, and who maintain that none has been created evil by the Author of all things, but that many have become wicked through education, and perverse example, and surrounding influences,166 so that wickedness has been naturalized167 in some individuals, are persuaded that for the word of God to change a nature in which evil has been naturalized is not only not impossible, but is even a work of no very great difficulty, if a man only believe that he must entrust himself to the God of all things, and do everything with a view to please Him with whom it cannot be168 that

“Both good and bad are in the same honour,

Or that the idle man and he who laboured much

Perish alike.”169

But even if it be exceedingly difficult to effect a change in some persons, the cause must be held to lie in their own will, which is reluctant to accept the belief that the God over all things is a just Judge of all the deeds done during life. For deliberate choice and practice170 avail much towards the accomplishment of things which appear to be very difficult, and, to speak hyperbolically, almost impossible. Has the nature of man, when desiring to walk along a rope extended in the air through the middle of the theatre, and to carry at the same time numerous and heavy weights, been able by practice and attention to accomplish such a feat; but when desiring to live in conformity with the practice of virtue, does it find it impossible to do so, although formerly it may have been exceedingly wicked? See whether he who holds such views does not bring a charge against the nature of the Creator of the rational animal171 rather than against the creature, if He has formed the nature of man with powers for the attainment of things of such difficulty, and of no utility whatever, but has rendered it incapable of securing its own blessedness. But these remarks may suffice as an answer to the assertion that “entirely to change a nature is exceedingly difficult.” He alleges, in the next place, that “they who are without sin are partakers of a better life;” not making it clear what he means by “those who are without sin,” whether those who are so from the beginning (of their lives), or those who become so by a transformation. Of those who were so from the beginning of their lives, there cannot possibly be any; while those who are so after a transformation (of heart) are found to be few in number, being those who have become so after giving in their allegiance to the saving word. And they were not such when they gave in their allegiance. For, apart from the aid of the word, and that too the word of perfection, it is impossible for a man to become free from sin.


Chap. LXX.

In the next place, he objects to the statement, as if it were maintained by us, that “God will be able to do all things,” not seeing even here how these words are meant, and what “the all things” are which are included in it, and how it is said that God “will be able.” But on these matters it is not necessary now to speak; for although he might with a show of reason have opposed this proposition, he has not done so. Perhaps he did not understand the arguments which might be plausibly used against it, or if he did, he saw the answers that might be returned. Now in our judgment God can do everything which it is possible for Him to do without ceasing to be God, and good, and wise. But Celsus asserts – not comprehending the meaning of the expression “God can do all things” – “that He will not desire to do anything wicked,” admitting that He has the power, but not the will, to commit evil. We, on the contrary, maintain that as that which by nature possesses the property of sweetening other things through its own inherent sweetness cannot produce bitterness contrary to its own peculiar nature,172 nor that whose nature it is to produce light through its being light can cause darkness; so neither is God able to commit wickedness, for the power of doing evil is contrary to His deity and its omnipotence. Whereas if any one among existing things is able to commit wickedness from being inclined to wickedness by nature, it does so from not having in its nature the ability not to do evil.


Chap. LXXI.

He next assumes what is not granted by the more rational class of believers, but what perhaps is considered to be true by some who are devoid of intelligence, – viz., that “God, like those who are overcome with pity, being Himself overcome, alleviates the sufferings of the wicked through pity for their wailings, and casts off the good, who do nothing of that kind, which is the height of injustice.” Now, in our judgment, God lightens the suffering of no wicked man who has not betaken himself to a virtuous life, and casts off no one who is already good, nor yet alleviates the suffering of any one who mourns, simply because he utters lamentation, or takes pity upon him, to use the word pity in its more common acceptation.173 But those who have passed severe condemnation upon themselves because of their sins, and who, as on that account, lament and bewail themselves as lost, so far as their previous conduct is concerned, and who have manifested a satisfactory change, are received by God on account of their repentance, as those who have undergone a transformation from a life of great wickedness. For virtue, taking up her abode in the souls of these persons, and expelling the wickedness which had previous possession of them, produces an oblivion of the past. And even although virtue do not effect an entrance, yet if a considerable progress take place in the soul, even that is sufficient, in the proportion that it is progressive, to drive out and destroy the flood of wickedness, so that it almost ceases to remain in the soul.


Chap. LXXII.

In the next place, speaking as in the person of a teacher of our doctrine, he expresses himself as follows: “Wise men reject what we say, being led into error, and ensnared by their wisdom.” In reply to which we say that, since wisdom is the knowledge of divine and human things and of their causes, or, as it is defined by the word of God, “the breath of the power of God, and a pure influence flowing from the glory of the Almighty; and the brightness of the everlasting light, and the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of His goodness,” (cf. Wisdom of Solomon 7:25, 26.) no one who was really wise would reject what is said by a Christian acquainted with the principles of Christianity, or would be led into error, or ensnared by it. For true wisdom does not mislead, but ignorance does, while of existing things knowledge alone is permanent, and the truth which is derived from wisdom. But if, contrary to the definition of wisdom, you call any one whatever who dogmatizes with sophistical opinions wise, we answer that in conformity with what you call wisdom, such an one rejects the words of God, being misled and ensnared by plausible sophisms. And since, according to our doctrine, wisdom is not the knowledge of evil, but the knowledge of evil, so to speak, is in those who hold false opinions and who are deceived by them, I would therefore in such persons term it ignorance rather than wisdom.



After this he again slanders the ambassador of Christianity, and gives out regarding him that he relates “ridiculous things,” although he does not show or clearly point out what are the things which he calls “ridiculous.” And in his slanders he says that “no wise man believes the Gospel, being driven away by the multitudes who adhere to it.” And in this he acts like one who should say that owing to the multitude of those ignorant persons who are brought into subjection to the laws, no wise man would yield obedience to Solon, for example, or to Lycurgus, or Zaleucus, or any other legislator, and especially if by wise man he means one who is wise (by living) in conformity with virtue. For, as with regard to these ignorant persons, the legislators, according to their ideas of utility, caused them to be surrounded with appropriate guidance and laws, so God, legislating through Jesus Christ for men in all parts of the world, brings: to Himself even those who are not wise in the way in which it is possible for such persons to be brought to a better life. And God, well knowing this, as we have already shown in the preceding pages, says in the books of Moses “They have moved Me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked Me to anger with their idols: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.” (cf. Deu_32:21) And Paul also, knowing this, said, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise,” (cf. 1Co_1:27) calling, in a general way, wise all who appear to have made advances in knowledge, but have fallen into an atheistic polytheism, since “professing themselves to be wise they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.” (Rom_1:22, Rom_1:23)


Chap. LXXIV.

He accuses the Christian teacher, moreover of” seeking after the unintelligent.” In answer we ask, Whom do you mean by the “unintelligent?” For, to speak accurately, every wicked man is “unintelligent.” If then by “unintelligent” you mean the wicked, do you, in drawing men to philosophy, seek to gain the wicked or the virtuous?174 But it is impossible to gain the virtuous, because they have already given themselves to philosophy. The wicked, then, (you try to gain;) but if they are wicked, are they “unintelligent?” And many such you seek to win over to philosophy, and you therefore seek the “unintelligent.” But if I seek after those who are thus termed “unintelligent,” I act like a benevolent physician, who should seek after the sick in order to help and cure them. If, however, by “unintelligent” you mean persons who are not clever,175 but the inferior class of men intellectually,176 I shall answer that I endeavour to improve such also to the best of my ability, although I would not desire to build up the Christian community out of such materials. For I seek in preference those who are more clever and acute, because they are able to comprehend the meaning of the hard sayings, and of those passages in the law, and prophecies, and Gospels, which are expressed with obscurity, and which you have despised as not containing anything worthy of notice, because you have not ascertained the meaning which they contain, nor tried to enter into the aim of the writers.


Chap. LXXV.

But as he afterwards says that “the teacher of Christianity acts like a person who promises to restore patients to bodily health, but who prevents them from consulting skilled physicians, by whom his ignorance would be exposed,” we shall inquire in reply, “What are the physicians to whom you refer, from whom we turn away ignorant individuals.? For you do not suppose that we exhort those to embrace the Gospel who are devoted to philosophy, so that you would regard the latter as the physicians from whom we keep away such as we invite to come to the word of God.” He indeed will make no answer, because he cannot name the physicians; or else he will be obliged to betake himself to those of them who are ignorant, and who of their own accord servilely yield themselves to the worship of many gods, and to whatever other opinions are entertained by ignorant individuals. In either case, then, he will be shown to have employed to no purpose in his argument the illustration of “one who keeps others away from skilled physicians.” But if, in order to preserve from the philosophy of Epicurus, and from such as are considered physicians after his system, those who are deceived by them, why should we not be acting most reasonably in keeping such away from a dangerous disease caused by the physicians of Celsus, – that, viz., which leads to the annihilation of providence, and the introduction of pleasure as a good? But let it be conceded that we do keep away those whom we encourage to become our disciples from other philosopher-physicians, – from the Peripatetics, for example, who deny the existence of providence and the relation of Deity to man, – why shall we not piously train177 and heal those who have been thus encouraged, persuading them to devote themselves to the God of all things, and free those who yield obedience to us from the great wounds inflicted by the words of such as are deemed to be philosophers? Nay, let it also be admitted that we turn away from physicians of the sect of the Stoics, who introduce a corruptible god, and assert that his essence consists of a body, which is capable of being changed and altered in all its parts,178 and who also maintain that all things will one day perish, and that God alone will be left; why shall we not even thus emancipate our subjects from evils, and bring them by pious arguments to devote themselves to the Creator, and to admire the Father of the Christian system, who has so arranged that instruction of the most benevolent kind, and fitted for the conversion of souls,179 should be distributed throughout the whole human race? Nay, if we should cure those who have fallen into the folly of believing in the transmigration of souls through the teaching of physicians, who will have it that the rational nature descends sometimes into all kinds of irrational animals, and sometimes into that state of being which is incapable of using the imagination,180 why should we not improve the souls of our subjects by means of a doctrine which does not teach that a state of insensibility or irrationalism is produced in the wicked instead of punishment, but which shows that the labours and chastisements inflicted upon the wicked by God are a kind of medicines leading to conversion? For those who are intelligent Christians,181 keeping this in view, deal with the simple-minded, as parents do with very young182 children. We do not betake ourselves then to young persons and silly rustics, saying to them, “Flee from physicians.” Nor do we say, “See that none of you lay hold of knowledge;” nor do we assert that “knowledge is an evil;” nor are we mad enough to say that “knowledge causes men to lose their soundness of mind.” We would not even say that any one ever perished through wisdom; and although we give instruction, we never say, “Give heed to me,” but “Give heed to the God of all things, and to Jesus, the giver of instruction concerning Him.” And none of us is so great a braggart183 as to say what Celsus put in the mouth of one of our teachers to his acquaintances, “I alone will save you.” Observe here the lies which he utters against us! Moreover, we do not assert that “true physicians destroy those whom they promise to cure.”


Chap. LXXVI.

And he produces a second illustration to our disadvantage, saying that “our teacher acts like a drunken man, who, entering a company of drunkards, should accuse those who are sober of being drunk.” But let him show, say from the writings of Paul, that the apostle of Jesus gave way to drunkenness, and that his words were not those of soberness; or from the writings of John, that his thoughts do not breathe a spirit of temperance and of freedom from the intoxication of evil. No one, then, who is of sound mind, and teaches the doctrines of Christianity, gets drunk with wine; but Celsus utters these calumnies against us in a spirit very unlike that of a philosopher. Moreover, let Celsus say who those “sober” persons are whom the ambassadors of Christianity accuse. For in our judgment all are intoxicated who address themselves to inanimate objects as to God. And why do I say “intoxicated?” “Insane” would be the more appropriate word for those who hasten to temples and worship images or animals as divinities. And they too are not less insane who think that images, fashioned by men of worthless and sometimes most wicked character, confer any honour upon genuine divinities.184



He next likens our teacher to one suffering from ophthalmia, and his disciples to those suffering from the same disease, and says that “such an one amongst a company of those who are afflicted with ophthalmia, accuses those who are sharp-sighted of being blind.” Who, then, would we ask, O Greeks, are they who in our judgment do not see, save those who are unable to look up from the exceeding greatness of the world and its contents, and from the beauty of created things, and to see that they ought to worship, and admire, and reverence Him alone who made these things, and that it is not befitting to treat with reverence anything contrived by man, and applied to the honour of God, whether it be without a reference to the Creator, or with one?185 For, to compare with that illimitable excellence, which surpasses all created being, things which ought not to be brought into comparison with it, is the act of those whose understanding is darkened. We do not then say that those who are sharp-sighted are suffering from ophthalmia or blindness; but we assert that those who, in ignorance of God, give themselves to temples and images, and so-called sacred seasons,186 are blinded in their minds, and especially when, in addition to their impiety, they live also in licentiousness, not even inquiring after any honourable work whatever, but doing everything that is of a disgraceful character.



After having brought against us charges of so serious a kind, he wishes to make it appear that, although he has others to adduce, he passes them by in silence. His words are as follows: “These charges I have to bring against them, and others of a similar nature, not to enumerate them one by one, and I affirm that they are in error, and that they act insolently towards God, in order to lead on wicked men by empty hopes, and to persuade them to despise better things, saying that if they refrain from them it will be better for them.” In answer to which, it might be said that from the power which shows itself in those who are converted to Christianity, it is not at all the “wicked” who are won over to the Gospel, as the more simple class of persons, and, as many would term them, the “unpolished.”187 For such individuals, through fear of the punishments that are threatened, which arouses and exhorts them to refrain from those actions which are followed by punishments, strive to yield themselves up to the Christian religion, being influenced by the power of the word to such a degree, that through fear of what are called in the word “everlasting punishments,” they despise all the tortures which are devised against them among men, – even death itself, with countless other evils, – which no wise man would say is the act of persons of wicked mind. How can temperance and sober-mindedness, or benevolence and liberality, be practised by a man of wicked mind? Nay, even the fear of God cannot be felt by such an one, with respect to which, because it is useful to the many, the Gospel encourages those who are not yet able to choose that which ought to be chosen for its own sake, to select it as the greatest blessing, and one above all promise; for this principle cannot be implanted in him who prefers to live in wickedness.


Chap. LXXIX.

But if in these matters any one were to imagine that it is superstition rather than wickedness which appears in the multitude of those who believe the word, and should charge our doctrine with making men superstitious, we shall answer him by saying that, as a certain legislator188 replied to the question of one who asked him whether he had enacted for his citizens the best laws, that he had not given them absolutely the best, but the best which they were capable of receiving; so it might be said by the Father of the Christian doctrine, I have given the best laws and instruction for the improvement of morals of which the many were capable, not threatening sinners with imaginary labours and chastisements, but with such as are real, and necessary to be applied for the correction of those who offer resistance, although they do not at all understand the object of him who inflicts the punishment, nor the effect of the labours. For the doctrine of punishment is both attended with utility, and is agreeable to truth, and is stated in obscure terms with advantage.189 Moreover, as for the most part it is not the wicked whom the ambassadors of Christianity gain over, neither do we insult God. For we speak regarding Him both what is true, and what appears to be clear to the multitude, but not so clear to them as it is to those few who investigate the truths of the Gospel in a philosophical manner.


Chap. LXXX.

Seeing, however, that Celsus alleges that “Christians are won over by us through vain hopes,” we thus reply to him when he finds fault with our doctrine of the blessed life, and of communion with God: “As for you, good sir, they also are won over by vain hopes who have accepted the doctrine of Pythagoras and Plato regarding the soul, that it is its nature to ascend to the vault190 of heaven, and in the super-celestial space to behold the sights which are seen by the blessed spectators above. According to you, O Celsus, they also who have accepted the doctrine of the duration of the soul (after death), and who lead a life through which they become heroes, and make their abodes with the gods, are won over by vain hopes. Probably also they who are persuaded that the soul comes (into the body) from without, and that it will be withdrawn from the power of death,191 would be said by Celsus to be won over by empty hopes. Let him then come forth to the contest, no longer concealing the sect to which he belongs, but confessing himself to be an Epicurean, and let him meet the arguments, which are not lightly advanced among Greeks and Barbarians, regarding the immortality of the soul, or its duration (after death), or the immortality of the thinking principle;192 and let him prove that these are words which deceive with empty hopes those who give their assent to them; but that the adherents of his philosophical system are pure from empty hopes, and that they indeed lead to hopes of good, or – what is more in keeping with his opinions – give birth to no hope at all, on account of the immediate and complete destruction of the soul (after death). Unless, perhaps, Celsus and the Epicureans will deny that it is a vain hope which they entertain regarding their end, – pleasure, – which, according to them, is the supreme good, and which consists in the permanent health of the body, and the hope regarding it which is entertained by Epicurus.193


Chap. LXXXI.

And do not suppose that it is not in keeping with the Christian religion for me to have accepted, against Celsus, the opinions of those philosophers who have treated of the immortality or after-duration of the soul; for, holding certain views in common with them, we shall more conveniently establish our position, that the future life of blessedness shall be for those only who have accepted the religion which is according to Jesus, and that devotion towards the Creator of all things which is pure and sincere, and unmingled with any created thing whatever. And let him who likes show what “better things” we persuade men to despise, and let him compare the blessed end with God in Christ, – that is, the word, and the wisdom, and all virtue; – which, according to our view, shall be bestowed, by the gift of God, on those who have lived a pure and blameless life, and who have felt a single and undivided love for the God of all things, with that end which is to follow according to the teaching of each philosophic sect, whether it be Greek or Barbarian, or according to the professions of religious mysteries;194 and let him prove that the end which is predicted by any of the others is superior to that which we promise, and consequently that that is true, and ours not befitting the gift of God, nor those who have lived a good life; or let him prove that these words were not spoken by the divine Spirit, who filled the souls of the holy prophets. And let him who likes show that those words which are acknowledged among all men to be human, are superior to those which are proved to be divine, and uttered by inspiration.195 And what are the “better” things from which we teach those who receive them that it would be better to abstain? For if it be not arrogant so to speak, it is self-evident that nothing can be denied which is better than to entrust oneself to the God of all, and yield oneself up to the doctrine which raises us above all created things, and brings us, through the animate and living word – which is also living wisdom and the Son of God – to God who is over all. However, as the third book of our answers to the treatise of Celsus has extended to a sufficient length, we shall here bring our present remarks to a close, and in what is to follow shall meet what Celsus has subsequently written. 





141 φωνὴν συνετός.

142 [Much is to be gathered from this and the following chapters, of the evangelical character of primitive preaching and discipline.]

143 ἁπλῶς.

144 εὐδαιμονίαν.

145 μακαριότητα.

146 τὸ ἡγεμονικόν.

147 ἀψευδῆ.

148 συκοφαντῶν.

149 [The reproaches of the scoffer are very instructive as to the real nature of the primitive dealing with sinners and with sin.]

150 ὑπεξαιρομένου τοῦ κατὰ τὸν Ἰησοῦν νοουμένου ἀνθρώπου.

151 προς κολακείαν.

152 In the text it is put interrogatively: τίς ἄνθρωπος τελέως δίκαιος; ἢ τίς ἀναμάρτητος; The allusion seems to be to Job_15:14 (Sept.): τίς γὰρ ὢν βροτὸς, ὅτι ἔσται ἄμεμπτος; ἢ ὡς ἐσόμενος δίκαιος γεννητὀς γυναικός;

153 και οὐ παρὰ τὸν ὀρθὸν λόγον προσάγοιτο ὑπὸ τοῦ ἐπὶ πᾶσι δικαστοῦ. [See infra, book iv. cap. lxxix, and Elucidations there named.]

154 [ ἐπιμόνως βεβαμμένοι. S.]

155 [ ὡσπεγεὶ δευσοποιηθέντες απὸ τῆς κακίας. S.]

156 [Let us note this in passing, as balancing some other expressions which could not have been used after the Pelagian controversy.]

157 He is said to have been either a Babylonian or Tyrrhenian, and to have lived in the rein of Nero. cf. Philostratus, iv. 1 2. – Ruaeus.

158 καὶ τὸ ἐξακουόμενον ἀπὸ τῆς λέξεως, ὡς δυνατὸν ἡμῖν, ἀνετρέψαμεν.

159 ἐπὶ τέγους. [“Ut quidam scripserunt,” says Hoffmann.]

160 μιαρώτατον ἀνθρώπων.

161 Ἀλλὰ τὴν μὲν τάξιν καὶ σύνθεσιν καὶ φράσιν τῶν ἀπὸ φιλοσοφίας λόγων.

162 The reading in the text is ἄλλως, for which which ἄλλους has been conjectured by Ruaeus and Boherellus, and which has been adopted in the translation.

163 ιδιωτικούς.

164 εὐσταθέστατον.

165 πιστικὴ ἀπὸ πνεύματος.

166 παρὰ τὰς ἀνατροφὰς, καὶ τὰς διαστροφὰς, καὶ τὰς περιηχήσεις.

167 φυσιωθῆναι.

168 [παρ ὦ οὐκ ἔστιν. S.]

169 cf. Iliad, ix. 319, 320.

170 προαίρεσις καὶ ἀσκησις.

171 τοῦ λογικοῦ ζώου.

172 ὥσπερ οὐ δύναται τὸ πεφυκὸς γλυκαίνειν τῷ γλυκυ τυγχάνειν πικράζειν, παρὰ την αὐτοῦ μόνην αἰτίαν.

173 ἵνα κοινότερον τῷ ἐλέει χρήσωμαι.

174 ἀστείους.

175 τοὺς μὴ ἐντρεχεῖς.

176 The reading in the text is τερατωδεστέρους, of which Ruaeus remarks, “Hic nullum habet locum.” Καταδεεστέρους has been conjectured instead, and has been adopted in the translation.

177 For εὐσεβεῖς in the text, Boherellus conjectures εὐσεβῶς.

178 θεὸν φθαρτὸν εἰσαγόντων, καὶ τὴν οὐσίαν αὐτοῦ λεγόντων σῶμα πρεπτὸν διόλου καὶ ἀλλοιωτὸν καὶ μεταβλητόν.

179 The words in the text are, φιλανθρωπότατα ἐπιστρεπτικὸν, καὶ ψυχῶν μαθήματα οἰκονομήσαντα, for which we have adopted in the translation the emendation of Boherellus, φιλανθρωπότατα καὶ ψυχῶν ἐπιστρεπτικὰ μαθήματα.

180 ἀλλὰ κἂν τοὺς πεπονθότας τὴν περὶ τῆς μετενσωματώσεως ἄνοιαν ἀπὸ ίατρῶν, τῶν καταβιβαζόντων τὴν λογικὴν φύσιν ὀτε μὲν ἐπὶ τὴν ἀλογον πᾶσαν, ὁτε δὲ καὶ ἐπὶ τὴν ἀφάνταστον.

181 Instead of οἱ φρονίμως Χριστιανοὶ ζῶντες, as in the text, Ruaeus and Boherellus conjecture οι φρονίμως Χριστιανιζοντες, etc.

182 τοῦς κομιδῇ νηπίους.

183 ἀλαζών.

184 [See vol. 3. Elucidation I. p. 76, this series; and as against the insanity of the Deutero Nicene Council (a.d. 787) note this prophetic protest. Condemned at Frankfort (a.d. 794) by Anglicans and Gallicans. See Sir W. Palmer, Treatise on the Church, part iv. 10, sect. 4. The Council of Frankfort is the pivot of history as to the division between East and West, the rise of Gallicanism, and of the Anglican Reformation.]

185 ειτε χωρὶς τοῦ δημιουργοῦ θεοῦ εἴτε καὶ μετ ἐκείνου.

186 ἰερομηνίας.

187 The reading in the text is κομψοί, which is so opposed to the sense of the passage, that the conjecture of Guietus, ἀκομψοι, has been adopted in the translation.

188 [i.e., Solon. S.]

189 [See Gieseler’s Church History, vol. i. p. 212 (also 213), with references there. But see Elucidation IV. p. 77, vol. 3., this series, and Elucidation at close of this book. See also Robertson’s History of the Church, vol. i. p. 156. S.]

190 ἁψῖδα.

191 Τάχα δὲ καὶ οἱ πεισθέντες περὶ τοῦ θύραθεν νοῦ, ὡς θανάτου καινοῦ διεξαγωγὴν ἕξοντος, etc. Locus certe obscurus, cui lucem afferre conatur Boherellus, legendo divism ὡς θανάτου καὶ νοῦ διεξαγωγὴν ἕξοντος, ut sensus sit “morti etiam mentem subductum iri.” Nam si θύραθεν ἥκει νοῦς, consequens est ut θανάτου καὶ νοῦς διεξαγωγὴν ἔχη. cf. Aristot, lib. ii. c. 3, de generatione animalium. – Spencer.

192 ἢ τῆς τοῦ νοῦ ἀθανασίας.

193 Εἰ μὴ ἄρα Κέλσος καὶ οἱ Ἐπικούρειοι οὐ φήσουσι κούφην εἶναι ἐλπίδα τὴν περὶ τοῦ τέλους αὐτῶν τῆς ἡδονῆς, ἥτις κατ αὐτούς ἐστι τὸ ἀγαθὸν, τὸ τῆς σαρκὸς εὐσταθὲς κατάστημα, καὶ τὸ περὶ ταυτης πιστὸν Ὲπικούρῳ ἔλπισμα.

194 τῷ καθ ἑκάστην φιλοσόφων αἵρεσιν ἐν Ἕλλησιν ἢ βαρβάροις, ἢ μυστηριώδη ἐπαγγελίαν τέλει.

195 [Note the testimony to divine inspiration.]