42. It would be possible for me also to paint you in your own colours, and to meet your insanity with a similar rage; to say what I know and add what I do not know; and with a license like yours, or rather fury and madness, to keep up things false and true alike, till I was ashamed to speak and you to hear: and to upbraid you in such a way as would condemn either the accused or the accuser; to force myself on the reader by mere effrontery, make him believe that what I wrote unscrupulously I wrote truly. But far be it from the practice of Christians while offering up their lives to seek the life of others, and to become homicides not with the sword but the will. This may agree with your gentleness and innocence; for you can draw forth from the dung heap within your breast alike the odour of roses and the stench of corpses; and, contrary to the precept of the Prophet, call that bitter which once you had praised as sweet. But it is not necessary for us, in treating of Christian topics, to throw out accusations which ought to be brought before the law courts. You shall hear nothing more from me than the vulgar saying: “When you have said what you like, you shall bear what you do not like.” Or if the coarse proverb seems to you too vulgar, and, being a man of culture, you prefer the words of philosophers or poets, take from me the words of Homer. 3207
One thing I should like to learn from one of such eminent sanctity and fastidiousness, (whose holiness is such that in the presence of your very handkerchiefs and aprons the devils cry out); whom do you take for your model in your writings? Has any one of the catholic writers, in a controversy of opinions, imputed moral offences to the man with whom he is arguing? Have your masters taught you to do this? Is this the system in which you have been trained, that, when you cannot answer a man, you should take off his head? that when you cannot silence a mans tongue, you should cut it out? You have nothing much to boast of, for you are doing only what the scorpions and cantharides do. This is what Fulvia 3208 did to Cicero and Herodias to John. They could not bear to hear the truth, and therep. 540 fore they pierced the tongue that spoke truth with the pin that parted their hair. The duty of dogs is to bark in their masters service; why may I not bark in the service of Christ? Many have written against Marcion or Valentinus, Arius or Eunomius. By which of them was any accusation brought of immoral conduct? Did they not in each case bring their whole effort to bear upon the refutation of the heresy? It is the machination of the heretics, that is of your masters, when convicted of betrayal of the faith, to betake themselves to evil speaking. So Eustathius 3209 the Bishop of Antioch was made into a father unawares. So Athanasius Bishop of Alexandria cut off a third hand of Arsenius; for, when he appeared 3210 alive after having been supposed to be dead, he was found to have two. Such things also now are falsely charged against the Bishop of the same church, and the true faith is assailed by gold, which constitutes the power of yourself and your friends. But I need not speak of controversy with heretics, who, though they are really without, yet call themselves Christians. How many of our writers have contended with those most impious men, Celsus and Porphyry! but which of them has left the cause he was engaged in to busy himself with the imputation of crime to his adversary, such as ought to be set down not in church-writings but in the calendar of the judge? For what advantage have you gained if you establish a mans criminality but fail in your argument? It is quite unnecessary that in bringing an accusation you should risk your own head. If your object is revenge, you can hire an executioner, and satisfy your desire. You pretend to dread a scandal, and yet you are ready to kill a man who was once your brother, whom you now accuse, and whom you always treat as an enemy. Yet I wonder how a man like you, who knows what he is about, should be so blinded by madness as to wish to confer a benefit upon me by drawing forth my soul out of prison, 3211 and should not suffer it to remain with you in the darkness of this world.
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