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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 X.—How to Make Progress.

Then my father said:  “Truly you have shown briefly and incomparably that there are evils in actions; but still I should wish to learn this, how God justly judges those who sin, as you say, if Genesis compels them to sin?”  Then I answered:  “I am afraid to speak anything to you, my father, because it becomes me to hold you in all honour, else I have an answer to give you, if it were becoming.”  Then says my father:  “Speak what occurs to you, my son; for it is not you, but the method of inquiry, that does the wrong, as a modest woman to an incontinent man, if she is indignant for her safety and her honour.”  Then I answered:  “If we do not hold by the principles that we have acknowledged and confessed, but if those things which have been defined are always loosened by forgetfulness, we shall seem to be weaving Penelope’s web, undoing what we have done.  And therefore we ought either not to acquiesce too easily, before we have diligently examined the doctrine propounded; or if we have once acquiesced, and the proposition has been agreed to, then we ought to keep by what has been once determined, that we may go on with our inquiries respecting other matters.”  And my father said:  “You say well, my son; and I know why you say this:  it is because in the discussion yesterday on natural causes, you showed that some malignant power, transferring itself into the order of the stars, excites the lusts of men, provoking them in various ways to sin, yet not compelling or producing sins.”  To this I answered:  “It is well that you remember it; and yet, though you do remember it, you have fallen into error.”  Then said my father:  “Pardon me, my son; for I have not yet much practice in these things:  for indeed your discourses yesterday, by their truth, shut me up to agree with you; yet in my consciousness there are, as it were, some remains of fevers, which for a little hold me back from faith, as from health.  For I am distracted, because I know that many things, yea, almost all things, have befallen me according to Genesis.”

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