29. What can be more distinct than this statement? What could possibly be thought or said whether by Origen or by any of those whom you say that you condemn, which would be clearer than this, that the inequality of conditions which exists among those who are born into this world is ascribed to the justice of God? You say that the cause of the salvation or perdition of each soul is to be found in itself, that is, in the passions and dispositions which it has shown in its previous life in that new Jerusalem which is the mother of us all. “But this too,” he will say no doubt, “is not said by myself. I described it as the opinion of another: moreover, I used the expression they seize upon the opportunity.” Well, I do not deny that you make it appear that you are speaking of another. But you have not denied that this man about whom you are speaking is in agreement and accord with you: you have not said that he is in opposition or hostility to you. For, when you use this formula of another in reference to one who is really opposed to you, you habitually, after setting down a few of his words, at once impugn and overthrow them: you do this in the case of Marcion, Valentinus, Arius and others. But when, as in this instance, you use, indeed, this formula of another, but report his words fortified by the strongest assertions and by the most abundant testimonies of Scripture, is it not evident even to us who are so slow of understanding, and whom you speak of as moles, that he whose words you set down and do not overthrow, is no other than yourself, and that we have here a case of the figure well known to rhetoricians, when they use another mans person to set forth their own opinions. Such figures are resorted to by rhetoricians when they are afraid of offending particular people, or when they wish to avoid exciting ill-will against themselves. But, if you think that you have avoided blame by putting forp. 451 ward another as the author of these statements, how much more free from it is he whom you accuse. For his mode of action is much more cautious. He is not content with merely saying, “This is what others say,” or “so some men think,” but, “As to this or that I do not decide, I only suggest,” and, “If this seems to any one more probable, let him hold to it, putting the other aside.” He has been very careful in his statements, as you know; and yet you summon him to be tried and condemned. You think that you have escaped because you speak of another: but the points on which you condemn him are precisely those in which you follow and imitate him.
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