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ANF04. Fathers of the Third Century: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second
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Chapter 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 train36633663    For εὐσεβεῖς in the text, Boherellus conjectures εὐσεβῶς. 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,36643664    θεὸν φθαρτὸν εἰσαγόντων, καὶ τὴν οὐσίαν αὐτοῦ λεγόντων σῶμα τρεπτὸν διόλου καὶ ἀλλοιωτὸν καὶ μεταβλητόν. 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,36653665    The words in the text are, φιλανθρωτότατα ἐπιστρεπτικόν, καὶ ψυχῶν μαθήματα οἰκονομήσαντα, for which we have adopted in the translation the emendation of Boherellus, φιλανθρωπότατα καὶ ψυχῶν ἐπιστρεπτικὰ μαθήματα. 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,36663666    ἀλλὰ κἂν τοὺς πεπονθότας τὴν περὶ τῆς μετενσωματώσεως ἄνοιαν ἀπὸ ἰατρῶν, τῶν καταβιβαζόντων τὴν λογικὴν φύσιν ὁτε μὲν ἐπὶ τὴν ἀλογον πᾶσαν, ὁτὲ δὲ καὶ ἐπὶ τὴν ἀφάνταστον. 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,36673667    Instead of οἱ φρονίμωςΧριστιανοὶ ζῶντες, as in the text, Ruæus and Boherellus conjecture οι φρονίμως Χριστιανιζοντες, etc. keeping this in view, deal with the simple-minded, as parents do with very young36683668    τους κομιδῇ νηπίους. 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 braggart36693669    ἀλαζών. 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.”


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