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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol I:
JUSTIN MARTYR: Chapter XXVI.—Plato indebted to the...

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXVI.—Plato indebted to the prophets.

And let no one wonder that Plato should believe Moses regarding the eternity of God. For you will find him mystically referring the true knowledge of realities to the prophets, next in order after the really existent God. For, discoursing in the Timæus about certain first principles, he wrote thus: “This we lay down as the first principle of fire and the other bodies, p. 284 proceeding according to probability and necessity. But the first principles of these again God above knows, and whosoever among men is beloved of Him.” 2560 And what men does he think beloved of God, but Moses and the rest of the prophets? For their prophecies he read, and, having learned from them the doctrine of the judgment, he thus proclaims it in the first book of the Republic: “When a man begins to think he is soon to die, fear invades him, and concern about things which had never before entered his head. And those stories about what goes on in Hades, which tell us that the man who has here been unjust must there be punished, though formerly ridiculed, now torment his soul with apprehensions that they may be true. And he, either through the feebleness of age, or even because he is now nearer to the things of the other world, views them more attentively. He becomes, therefore, full of apprehension and dread, and begins to call himself to account and to consider whether he has done any one an injury. And that man who finds in his life many iniquities, and who continually starts from his sleep as children do, lives in terror, and with a forlorn prospect. But to him who is conscious of no wrong-doing, sweet hope is the constant companion and good nurse of old age, as Pindar says. 2561 For this, Socrates, he has elegantly expressed, that ‘whoever leads a life of holiness and justice, him sweet hope, the nurse of age, accompanies, cheering his heart, for she powerfully sways the changeful mind of mortals.’ ” 2562 This Plato wrote in the first book of the Republic.


Footnotes

284:2560

Plato, Tim., p. 53 D, [cap. 20].

284:2561

Pind., Fr., 233, a fragment preserved in this place.

284:2562

Plato, Rep., p. 330 D.


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