Therefore it is not said to a man: “It necessary for you to sin that you may not sin;” but it is said to a man: “God in some degree forsakes you, in consequence of which you grow proud, that you may know that you are not your own, but are His, 1208 and learn not to be proud.” Now even that incident in the apostles life, of this kind, is so wonderful, that were it not for the fact that he himself is the voucher for it whose truth it is impious to contradict, would it not be incredible? For what believer is there who is ignorant that the first incentive to sin came from Satan, and that he is the first author of all sins? And yet, for all that, some are “delivered over unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” 1209 How comes it to pass, then, that Satans work is prevented by the work of Satan? These and such like questions let a man regard in such a light that they seem not to him to be too acute; they have somewhat of the sound of acuteness, and yet when discussed are found to be obtuse. What must we say also to our authors use of similes whereby he rather suggests to us the answer which we should give to him? “What” (asks he) “shall I say more than this, that we may believe that fires are quenched by fires, if we may believe that sins are cured by sins?” What if one cannot put out fires by fires: but yet pains can, for all that, as I have shown, be cured by pains? Poisons can also, if one only inquire and learn the fact, be expelled by poisons. Now, if he observes that the heats of fevers are sometimes subdued by certain medicinal warmths, he will perhaps also allow that fires may be extinguished by fires.
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