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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 XV.—Sin the Cause of Evil.

And Simon said:  “But what if, being lifeless, it possesses a nature capable of producing what is evil and what is good?”  And Peter said:  “According to this statement, it is neither good nor evil, because it does not act by free choice, being lifeless and insensible.  Wherefore it is possible to perceive distinctly in this matter, how, being lifeless, it produces as if it were living;14371437    Possibly the right reading is ἐμψύχους, “it produces living beings.” and being insensible, it yet plainly fashions artistic shapes both in animals and plants.”  And Simon said:  “What! if God Himself gave it life, is not He, then, the cause of the evils which it produces?”  And Peter said:  “If God gave it life according to His own will, then it is His Spirit that produces it, and no longer is it anything hostile to God, or of equal power with Him; or it is impossible that everything made by Him is made according as He wishes.  But you will say, He Himself is the cause of evil, since He Himself produces the evils through it.  What sort, then, are the evils of which you speak?  Poisonous serpents and deadly plants, or demons, or any other of those things that can disturb men?—which things would not have been injurious had not man sinned, for which reason14381438    Or, “on whose account.” death came in.  For if man were sinless, the poison of serpents would have no effect, nor the activities of injurious plants, nor would there be the disturbances of demons, nor would man naturally have any other suffering; but losing his immortality on account of his sin, he has become, as I said, capable of every suffering.  But if you say, Why, then, was the nature of man made at the beginning capable of death? I tell you, because of free-will; for if we were not capable of death, we could not, as being immortal, be punished on account of our voluntary sin.14391439    [Comp. xi. 8; Recognitions, iii. 21, 26, etc.—R.]  And thus, on account of our freedom from suffering, righteousness would be still more weakened if we were wicked by choice; for those who should have evil purposes could not be punished, on account of their being incapable of suffering.14401440    The text is corrupt.


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