Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Against the Heathen. (Contra Gentes.): Conclusion. Doctrine of Scripture on the subject of Part I.
§45. Conclusion. Doctrine of Scripture on the subject of Part I.
For just as by looking up to the heaven and seeing its order and the light of the stars, it is possible to infer the Word Who ordered these things, so by beholding the Word of God, one needs must behold also God His Father, proceeding from Whom He is rightly called His Fathers Interpreter and Messenger. 2. And this one may see from our own experience; for if when a word proceeds from men 173 we infer that the mind is its source, and, by thinking about the word, see with our reason the mind which it reveals, by far greater evidence and incomparably more, seeing the power of the Word, we receive a knowledge also of His good Father, as the Saviour Himself says, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father 174 .” But this all inspired Scripture also teaches more plainly and with more authority, so that we in our turn write boldly to you as we do, and you, if you refer to them, will be able to verify what we say. 3. For an argument when confirmed by higher authority is irresistibly proved. From the first then the divine Word firmly taught the Jewish people about the abolition of idols when it said 175 : “Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven image, nor the likeness of anything that is in the heaven above or in the earth beneath.” But the cause of their abolition another writer declares 176 , saying: “The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the works of mens hands: a mouth have they and will not speak, eyes have they and will not see, ears have they and will not hear, noses have they and will not smell, hands have they and will not handle, feet have they and will not walk.” Nor has it passed over in silence the doctrine of creation; but, knowing well its beauty, lest any attending solely to this beauty should worship things as if they were gods, instead of Gods works, it teaches men firmly beforehand when it says 177 : “And do not when thou lookest up with thine eyes and seest the sun and moon and all the host of heaven, go astray and worship them, which the Lord thy God hath given to all nations under heaven.” But He gave them, not to be their gods, but that by their agency the Gentiles should know, as we have said, God the Maker of them all. 4. For the people of the Jews of old had abundant teaching, in that they had the knowledge of God not only from the works of Creation, but also from the divine Scriptures. And in general to draw men away from the error and irrational imagination of idols, He saith 178 : “Thou shalt have none other gods but Me.” Not as if there were other gods does He forbid them to have them, but lest any, turning from the true God, should begin to make himself gods of what were not, such as those who in the poets and writers are called gods, though they are none. And the language itself shews that they are no Gods, when it says, “Thou shalt have none other gods,” which refers only to the future. But what is referred to the future does not exist at the time of speaking.
Cf. de Sent. Dionys. 23.28:174
Joh. xiv. 9.28:175
Ex. xx. 4.28:176
Ps. cxv. 4-7.28:177
Deut. iv. 19.28:178
Ex. xx. 3.
Next: Doctrine of Scripture on the subject of Part 3.
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