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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Manichæan Controversy.: Chapter 41

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 41.—How Great Good Things the Manichæans Put in the Nature of Evil, and How Great Evil Things in the Nature of Good.

But if the Manichæans were willing, without pernicious zeal for defending their error, and with the fear of God, to think, they would not most criminally blaspheme by supposing two natures, the one good, which they call God, the other evil, which God did not make:  so erring, so delirious, nay so insane, are they that they do not see, that even in what they call the nature of supreme evil they place so great good things:  life, power, safety, memp. 360 ory, intellect, temperance, virtue, plenty, sense, light, suavity, extensions, numbers, peace, measure, form, order; but in what they call supreme good, so many evil things:  death, sickness, forgetfulness, foolishness, confusion, impotence, need, stolidity, blindness, pain, unrighteousness, disgrace, war, intemperance, deformity, perversity.  For they say that the princes of darkness also have been alive in their own nature, and in their own kingdom were safe, and remembered and understood.  For they say that the Prince of Darkness harangued in such a manner, that neither could he have said such things, nor could he have been heard by those by whom he was said to have been heard, without memory and understanding; and to have had a temper suitable to his mind and body, and to have ruled by virtue of power, and to have had abundance and fruitfulness with respect to his elements, and they are said to have perceived themselves mutually and the light as near at hand, and to have had eyes by which they could see the light afar off; which eyes assuredly could not have seen the light without some light (whence also they are rightly called light); and they are said to have enjoyed exceedingly the sweetness of their pleasures, and to have been determined by measured members and dwelling-places.  But unless there had been some sort of beauty there, they would not have loved their wives, nor would their bodies have been steady by adaptation of parts; without which, those things could not have been done there which the Manichæans insanely say were done.  And unless some peace had been there, they would not have obeyed their Prince.  Unless measure had been there, they would have done nothing else than eat or drink, or rage, or whatever they might have done, without any society:  although not even those that did these things would have had determinate forms, unless measure had been there.  But now the Manichæans say that they did such things that they cannot be denied to have had in all their actions measures suitable to themselves.  But if form had not been there, no natural quality would have there subsisted.  But if there had been no order there, some would not have ruled, others been ruled; they would not have lived harmoniously in their element; in fine, they would not have had their members adapted to their places, so that they could not do all those things that the Manichæans vainly fable.  But if they say that God’s nature does not die, what according to their vanity does Christ raise from the dead?  If they say that it does not grow sick, what does He cure?  If they say that it is not subject to forgetfulness, what does He remind?  If they say that it is not deficient in wisdom, what does He teach?  If they say that it is not confused, what does He restore?  If they say that it was not vanquished and taken captive, what does He liberate?  If they say that it was not in need, to what does He minister aid?  If they say that it did not lose feeling, what does He animate?  If they say that it has not been blinded, what does He illuminate?  If it is not in pain, to what does He give relief?  If it is not unrighteous, what does He correct through precepts?  If it is not in disgrace, what does He cleanse?  If it is not in war, to what does He promise peace?  If it is not deficient in moderation, upon what does He impose the measure of law?  If it is not deformed, what does He reform?  If it is not perverse, what does He emend?  For all these things done by Christ, they say, are to be attributed not to that thing which was made by God, and which has become depraved by its own free choice in sinning, but to the very nature, yea to the very substance of God, which is what God Himself is.

Next: Chapter 42

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