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ANF07. Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries: Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Homily
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Chap. II.—Where Wisdom is to Be Found; Why Pythagoras and Plato Did Not Approach the Jews.

Wherefore, if they were not wise who were so called, nor those of later times, who did not hesitate to confess their want of wisdom, what remains but that wisdom is to be sought elsewhere, since it has not been found where it was sought. But what can we suppose to have been the reason why it was not found, though sought with the greatest earnestness and labour by so many intellects, and during so many ages, unless it be that philosophers sought for it out of their own limits? And since they traversed and explored all parts, but nowhere found any wisdom, and it must of necessity be somewhere, it is evident that it ought especially to be sought there where the title of folly500500     See 1 Cor. i. 20–22.   appears; under the covering of which God hides the treasury of wisdom and truth, lest the secret of His divine work should be exposed to view.501501     [“Thou art a God that hidest thyself,” Isa xlv. 15. Wisdom must be searched after as hidden treasure.]   Whence I am accustomed to wonder that, when Pythagoras, and after him Plato, inflamed with the love of searching out the truth, had penetrated as far as to the Egyptians, and Magi, and Persians, that they might become acquainted with their religious rites and institutions (for they suspected that wisdom was concerned with religion), they did not approach the Jews only, in whose possession alone it then was, and to whom they might have gone more easily. But I think that they were turned away from them by divine providence, that they might not know the truth, because it was not yet permitted for the religion of the true God and righteousness to become known to men of other nations.502502     See Eph. i. 9, 10; Col. i. 26, 27. [This is a mysterious truth: God’s election of men and nations has been according to their desire to be enlightened. Christ must be the “Desire of Nations.”]   For God had determined, as the last time drew near,503503     The last time is the last dispensation, the time of the new covenant. Heb. i. 2.   to send from heaven a great leader,504504     See Isa. lv. 4: “Behold, I have given Him for a leader and commander to the people.”   who should reveal to foreign nations that which was taken away from a perfidious505505     Matt. xxi.   and ungrateful people. And I will endeavour to discuss the subject in this book, if I shall first have shown that wisdom is so closely united with religion, that the one cannot be separated from the other.  


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