Chapter VII.—The world preserved for
the sake of Christians. Man’s responsibility.
delays causing the confusion and destruction of the whole world, by which
the wicked angels and demons and men shall cease to exist, because of the
seed of the Christians, who know that they are the cause of preservation
in nature.19331933 Since, if it were not so, it
would not have been possible for you to do these things, and to be
impelled by evil spirits; but the fire of judgment would descend and
utterly dissolve all things, even as formerly the flood left no one but
him only with his family who is by us called Noah, and by you Deucalion,
from whom again such vast numbers have sprung, some of them evil and
others good. For so we say that there will
be the conflagration, but not as the Stoics, according to their doctrine
of all things being changed into one another, which seems most degrading.
But neither do we affirm that it is by fate that men do what they do, or
suffer what they suffer, but that each man by free choice acts rightly or
sins; and that it is by the influence of the wicked demons that earnest
men, such as Socrates and the like, suffer persecution and are in bonds,
while Sardanapalus, Epicurus, and the like, seem to be blessed in
abundance and glory. The Stoics, not observing this, maintained that all
things take place according to the necessity of fate. But since God in the beginning
made the race of angels and men with free-will, they will justly suffer
in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed. And
this is the nature of all that is made, to be capable of vice and virtue.
For neither would any of them be praiseworthy unless there were power to
turn to both [virtue and vice]. And this also is shown by those men
everywhere who have made laws and philosophized according to right
reason, by their prescribing to do some things and refrain from others.
Even the Stoic philosophers, in their
doctrine of morals,
steadily honour the same things, so that it is evident that they are not
very felicitous in what they say about principles and incorporeal things.
For if they say that human actions come to pass by fate, they will
maintain either that God is nothing else than the things which are ever
turning, and altering, and dissolving into the same things, and will
appear to have had a comprehension only of things that are destructible,
and to have looked on God Himself as emerging both in part and in whole
in every wickedness;19341934
or that neither vice nor virtue is anything; which is contrary to
every sound idea, reason, and sense.