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ANF08. The Twelve Patriarchs, Excerpts and Epistles, The Clementia, Apocrypha, Decretals, Memoirs of Edessa and Syriac Documents, Remains of the First
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Chapter LIV.—An Illustration.

To this the old man answered:  “Show me a way, my son, by which I may establish in my mind one or other of these two orders, the one of which asserts, and the other denies, providence.”  “To one having a right judgment,” says Aquila, “the decision is easy.  For this very thing that you say, order and disorder, may be produced by a contriver, but not by insensible nature.  For let us suppose, by way of illustration, that a great mass were torn from a high rock, and cast down headlong, and when clashed upon the ground were broken into many pieces, could it in any way happen that, amongst that multitude of fragments, there should be found even one which should have any perfect figure and shape?”  The old man answered:  “It is impossible.”  “But,” said Aquila, “if there be present a statuary, he can by his skilful hand and reasonable mind form the stone cut from the mountain into whatever figure he pleases.”  The old man said:  “That is true.”  “Therefore,” says Aquila, “when there is not a rational mind, no figure can be formed out of the mass; but when there is a designing mind, there may be both form and deformity:  for example, if a workman cuts from the mountain a block to which he wishes to give a form, he must first cut it out unformed and rough; then, by degrees hammering and hewing it by the rule of his art, he expresses the form which he has conceived in his mind.  Thus, therefore, from informity or deformity, by the hand of the workman form is attained, and both proceed from the workman.  In like manner, therefore, the things which are done in the world are accomplished by the providence of a contriver, although they may seem not quite orderly.  And therefore, because these two ways have been made known to you, and you have heard the divisions of them, flee from the way of unbelief, lest haply it lead you to that prince who delights in evils; but follow the way of faith, that you may come to that King who delighteth in good men.”

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