============================== >>>For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.. I Corinthians 2: 2<<<=============================
Published On: Wed, Sep 18th, 2013

Peter – The man with purpose (Part XVIII)

Peter – The man with purpose (Part XVIII)

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“Since, therefore, you profess to be conversant with the position of the stars and the courses of the heavenly bodies, and that from these you can convince Clement that all things are subject to Genesis, or that you will learn from him that all things are governed by providence, and that we have something in our own power, it is now time for you two to set about this.”  To this the old man answered:  “Now indeed it was not necessary to raise questions of this kind, if it were possible for us to learn from the true Prophet, and to hear in a definite proposition, that anything depends on us and on the freedom of our will; for your yesterday’s discourse affected me greatly, in which you disputed concerning the prophetic power. Whence also I assent to and confirm your judgment that nothing can be known by man with certainty, and without doubt, seeing that he has but a short period of life, and a brief and slender breath, by which he seems to be kept in life.  However, since I am understood to have promised to Clement, before I heard anything of the prophetic power, that I should show that all things are subject to Genesis, or that I should learn from him that there is something in ourselves, let him do me this favour, that he first begin, and propound and explain what may be objected:  for I, ever since I heard from you a few words concerning the power of prophecy, have, I confess, been confounded, considering the greatness of prescience; nor do I think that anything ought to be received which is collected from conjectures and opinion.”

Beginning of the Discussion:

When the old man had said this, I Clement began to speak as follows:  “God by His Son created the world as a double house, separated by the interposition of this firmament, which is called heaven; and appointed angelic powers to dwell in the higher, and a multitude of men to be born in this visible world, from amongst whom He might choose friends for His Son, with whom He might rejoice, and who might be prepared for Him as a beloved bride for a bridegroom.  But even till the time of the marriage, which is the manifestation of the world to come, He has appointed a certain power, to choose out and watch over the good ones of those who are born in this world, and to preserve them for His Son, set apart in a certain place of the world, which is without sin; in which there are already some, who are there being prepared, as I said, as a bride adorned for the coming of the bridegroom.  For the prince of this world and of the present age is like an adulterer, who corrupts and violates the minds of men, and, seducing them from the love of the true bridegroom, allures them to strange lovers.

Why the Evil Prince Was Made:

But someone will say, How then was it necessary that that prince should be made, who was to turn away the minds of men from the true prince? Because God, who, as I have said, wished to prepare friends for His Son, did not wish them to be such as by necessity of nature could not be aught else, but such as should desire of their own choice and will to be good; because neither is that praiseworthy which is not desirable, nor is that judged to be good which is not sought for with purpose.  For there is no credit in being that from which the necessity of your nature does not admit of your changing.  Therefore the providence of God has willed that a multitude of men should be born in this world, that those who should choose a good life might be selected from many.  And because He foresaw that the present world could not consist except by variety and inequality, He gave to each mind freedom of motions according to the diversities of present things, and appointed this prince, through his suggestion of those things which run contrary, that the choice of better things might depend upon the exercise of virtue.

Necessity of Inequality:

“But to make our meaning plainer, we shall explain it by particulars.  Was it proper, for example, that all men in this world should be kings, or princes, or lords, or teachers, or lawyers, or geometers, or goldsmiths, or bakers, or smiths, or grammarians, or rich men, or farmers, or perfumers, or fishermen, or poor men?  It is certain that all could not be these.  Yet all these professions, and many more, the life of men require, and without these it cannot be passed; therefore inequality is necessary in this world.  For there cannot be a king, unless he has subjects over whom he may rule and reign; nor can there be a master, unless he has one over whom he may bear sway; and in like manner of the rest.

Arrangements of the World for the Exercise of Virtue:

“Therefore the Creator, knowing that no one would come to the contest of his own accord, while labour is shunned,—that is, to the practice of those professions which we have mentioned, by means of which either the justice or the mercy of everyone can be manifested,—made for men a body susceptible of hunger, and thirst, and cold, in order that men, being compelled for the sake of supporting their bodies, might come down to all the professions which we have mentioned, by the necessity of livelihood. For we are taught to cultivate everyone of these arts, for the sake of food, and drink, and clothing.  And in this the purpose of each one’s mind is shown, whether he will supply the demands of hunger and cold by means of thefts, and murders, and perjuries, and other crimes of that sort; or whether, keeping justice and mercy and continence, he will fulfil the service of imminent necessity by the practice of a profession and the labour of his hands.  For if he supply his bodily wants with justice, and piety, and mercy, he comes forth as a victor in the contest set before him, and is chosen as a friend of the Son of God.  But if he serve carnal lusts, by frauds, iniquities, and crimes, he becomes a friend of the prince of this world, and of all demons; by whom he is also taught this, to ascribe to the courses of the stars the errors of his own evil doings, although he chose them of purpose, and willingly.  For arts are learned and practised, as we have said, under the compulsion of the desire of food and drink; which desire, when the knowledge of the truth comes to any one, becomes weaker, and frugality takes its place.  For what expense have those who use water and bread, and only expect it from God?

The Old and the New Birth:

“There is therefore, as we have said a certain necessary inequality in the dispensation of the world.  Since indeed all men cannot know all things, and accomplish all works, yet all need the use and service of almost all.  And on this account it is necessary that one work, and another pay him for his work; that one be servant, and another be master; that one be subject, another be king.  But this inequality, which is a necessary provision for the life of men, divine providence has turned into an occasion of justice, mercy, and humanity:  that while these things are transacted between man and man, everyone may have an opportunity of acting justly with him to whom he has to pay wages for his work; and of acting mercifully to him who, perhaps through sickness or poverty, cannot pay his debt; and of acting humanely towards those who by their creation seem to be subject to him; also of maintaining gentleness towards subjects, and of doing all things according to the law of God.  For He has given a law, thereby aiding the minds of men, that they may the more easily perceive how they ought to act with respect to everything, in what way they may escape evil, and in what way tend to future blessings; and how, being regenerate in water, they may by good works extinguish the fire of their old birth.  For our first birth descends through the fire of lust, and therefore, by the divine appointment, this second birth is introduced by water, which may extinguish the nature of fire; and that the soul, enlightened by the heavenly Spirit, may cast away the fear of the first birth:  provided, however, it so live for the time to come, that it do not at all seek after any of the pleasures of this world, but be, as it were, a pilgrim and a stranger, and a citizen of another city.

Abad of Jesus Christ,

  Stulo Robinson.S.

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