Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
ATHENAGORAS: Chapter XXV.—The Poets and Philosophers Have Denied a Divine Providence.
Chapter XXV.—The Poets and Philosophers Have Denied a Divine Providence.
These angels, then, who have fallen from heaven, and haunt the air and the earth, and are no longer able to rise to heavenly things, and the souls of the giants, which are the demons who wander about the world, perform actions similar, the one (that is, the demons) to the natures they have received, the other (that is, the angels) to the appetites they have indulged. But the prince of matter, as may be seen merely from what transpires, exercises a control and management contrary to the good that is in God:—“Ofttimes this anxious thought has crossed my mind,
Whether tis chance or deity that rules
The small affairs of men; and, spite of hope
As well as justice, drives to exile some
Stripped of all means of life, while others still
Continue to enjoy prosperity.” 790
Prosperity and adversity, contrary to hope and justice, made it impossible for Euripides to say to whom belongs the administration of earthly affairs, which is of such a kind that one might say of it:—“How then, while seeing these things, can we say
There is a race of gods, or yield to laws?” 791
The same thing led Aristotle to say that the things below the heaven are not under the care of Providence, although the eternal providence of God concerns itself equally with us below,—“The earth, let willingness move her or not,
Must herbs produce, and thus sustain my flocks,” 792 —
and addresses itself to the deserving individually, according to truth and not according to opinion; and all other things, according to the general constitution of nature, are provided for by the law of reason. But because the demoniac movements and operations proceeding from the adverse spirit produce these disorderly sallies, and moreover move men, some in one way and some in another, as individuals and as nations, separately and in common, in accordance with the tendency of matter on the one hand, and of the affinity for divine things on the other, from within and from without,—some who are of no mean reputation have therefore thought that this universe is constituted without any definite order, and is driven hither and thither by an irrational chance. But they do not understand, that of those things which belong to the constitution of the whole world there is nothing out of order or neglected, but that each one of them has been produced by reason, and that, therefore, they do not transgress the order prescribed to them; and that man himself, too, so far as He that made him is concerned, is well ordered, both by his original nature, which has one common character for all, and by the constitution of his body, which does not transgress the law imposed upon p. 143 it, and by the termination of his life, which remains equal and common to all alike; 793 but that, according to the character peculiar to himself and the operation of the ruling prince and of the demons his followers, he is impelled and moved in this direction or in that, notwithstanding that all possess in common the same original constitution of mind. 794
Eurip.; from an unknown play.142:791
Eurip., Cycl., 332 sq.143:793
[Kaye, p. 190.]143:794
Or, “powers of reasoning” (λογισμός).
Next: Chapter XXVI.—The Demons Allure Men to the Worship of Images.
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