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SECTION V.

Passages of Celsus concerning christian principles.

1. ‘LET" us now see,” says Origen, how he affects to * Hessen us with regard to our moral doctrine, saying, that" “it is only the same with that of other philosophers, and * contains in it nothing weighty and new.’ He also says, * That" others, as well as the christians, had disallowed the ‘ divinity of gods made with hands, forasmuch as oftentimes “ they were formed by wicked men.’ Whether there be here any reference to Acts xix. 26, I cannot say certainly : but it hence appears, that the christian moral doctrine had nothing in it to which any just exceptions could be inade. Celsus, indeed, would not allow it to have any superior excellence above the doctrine of the philosophers; but he does not deny it to be like to their doctrine, and equal to that of the best sort of the philosophers. 2. ‘He'" says, the same things are better taught by the ‘ Greeks, and without the threatenings or promises of God, “ or his Son. And that" Plato did not pretend to come ‘ from heaven, and declare such things.” Supposing, for the present, that the same things had been taught by others; they would not, and did not so effectually influence men, as when taught with authority from God, and with assurances of suitable recompences. It would have been more material, if Celsus could have shown, where the heathen deities, or their priests with authority under them, had recommended sobriety and other virtues; adding likewise threatenings of misery to the refractory, and promises of happiness in a future state to such as feared the gods, and practised righteousness and mercy to their neighbours. Augustine, in his work of the City of God, observes, that ‘ the gods of the pagans had never authorized the doctrine of virtuous living.

* L. i. Sect. 4, 5, p. 6. " To kowov stwat rat Tpoc ax\ag optAogospeg ög 8 o’splvov ri kat Kaivov uaômpua. Sect. 4.

C As yov, avrag öta raro plm vopu%stv avrag Xelpotoujrag 688c. Sect. 5.

* packov, {{Artov avra Tap 'EXAmvov signagat. K. A.——L. vi. Sect. 1. p. 275. * L. vi. sect. 10. p. 281.

f Sed demonstrentur vel commemorentur loca, talibus aliquando conve. ticulis consecrata; non ubi ludi agerentur obscoenis vocibus et motibus histrionum——sed ubi populi audirent, quid Dii praeciperent de cohibendā

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3. ‘Celsus; thinks, that we, by worshipping one that “was apprehended, and died, do much the same thing with ‘the Getae, who worship Zamolxis, and the Cilicians, who “worship Mopsus.’ ‘Again" he says of us, that we ‘ laugh at those who worship Jupiter, because his tomb is “shown in Crete; nevertheless we worship one that was * buried.” The difference is manifest; the Cretans knew of no miracles done by Jupiter; whereas, the christians knew of many miracles done by Jesus in person, and by others in his name, after his resurrection. A part of Origen's answer here is to this purpose. “All “this we have been forced to say by way of answer to ‘Celsus, who, little favourable to Jesus, believes it to be “true which is written of him, that he died, and was buried; ‘ but esteems it a fiction only, that he was raised from the ‘dead; although his resurrection had been foretold by the ‘prophets, and there were many proofs of his being alive again after he had died.’ Compare Acts i. 3. 4. ‘But" the christians, according to Celsus, making some additions to the Jewish notions, say, that the Son of God has been already sent, because of the sins of the Jews; and that the Jews, having punished Jesus, and given him gall to drink, have brought upon themselves the anger of God.” “Which, Origen says, is a plain case; and if it is not so, let any man show it. For Jerusalem was destroyed within two and forty years after the crucifixion of Jesus, and ever since they have been in subjection to others, without their own proper rites and worship; which is one of those things, that manifests Jesus to have had in him somewhat divine and sacred ; forasmuch as upon his account the Jews have suffered so many and so great calamities, and for so long a time.” 5. He argues against a resurrection in this manner. “But" that is another absurdity of theirs, that when God shall throw a fire on the world, and all other things shall be destroyed, they alone shall remain: and that not only the ‘living, but they also who have been ever so long dead,

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avaritiã, ambitione fragendā, luxurià refraenandā-——Dicatur, in quibus locis

haec docentium Deorum solebant praecepta recitari, et a cultoribus eorum

populis frequenter audiri. De Civ. Dei, l. ii. cap. vi. Vid. et cap. xix. et xxii. * L. iii. sect. 34. p. 131. * L. iii. sect. 43. p. 136. * Ibid. Sect. 43. p. 137. * L. iv. sect. 22. p. 174. ' --kai xoxmv trotto avric, sirt opac avrag ek 688 XoAov 8tso Tagavro. Ib

" L. iv. sect. 14. p. 240.

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shall come forth out of the earth in their own bodies, [or in the same flesh :] which is no other than the hope of worms. For what soul of a man would desire a putrified body ? Nor is this doctrine of yours agreed to by all christians: for some among you reject it as impure, and abominable, and impossible. For how is it possible, that a body, which has entirely been corrupted, should return to its own nature, and to its own primitive constitution, which it has once lost 2 When they are able to make no answer to this, they fly to that absurd refuge, that all things are possible with God. But neither can God do any thing that is shameful; nor will he do what is contrary to nature. Nor because you perversely desire any thing, is God therefore able to do it, or is it to be supposed, that he will do it. For God is not the author of extravagant desires, nor of any unbecoming disorders, but of what is right and fit. God may give everlasting life to the soul; but dead bodies, as Heraclitus says, are more contemptible than dung. To make flesh, full of filthiness not fit to be named, eternal, is a thing so unreasonable, that God neither can nor will do it; for he is himself the reason of all things in nature; and, therefore, can no more do any thing contrary to reason, than contrary to himself.” I have transcribed this long passage, to show at once the heathen sentiments and reasonings, upon this point; but I do not intend a laboured confutation of them. Celsus affects to despise the body; but I presume he goes upon an ill-grounded principle, that the human soul may be as happy, or more happy, without the body, than with it; and, as Origen observes, the body, at the resurrection, is to be changed for the better, and made fit for the soul in a state of perfection. Which, I think, removes all these difficulties, in the reunion of the soul and body, which to Celsus appeared so formidable." What we are here to observe, is, that it hence appears, christians then expected a change, or resurrection of the living and the dead at the end of the world, or the dissolution of the present state of things, according to what St.

Paul writes, I Cor. xv. 51—54, and 1 Thess iv. 13–17.

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" Says Dr. Cudworth, The true Intellectual System of the Universe, B. i. ch. v. p. 877, ‘However, our christian faith assures us, that the souls of good “men shall at length be clothed with spiritual and heavenly bodies, such as “are, in Aristotle's language, ava\oya rip row aspov gotysup analogous to the ‘ element of the stars. Which christian resurrection, therefore, “to life and “immortality,” is far from being as Celsus reproached it, oka)\mkov extric, the ‘mere hope of worms.'

When Celsus says, that christians were not all agreed about the doctrine of the resurrection, it may be doubtful, whether he intends some of his own time, or whether he refers to 1 Cor. xv. 12, and the following context. “Now if Christ be preached, that he rose from the dead; how say some among you, that there is no resurrection of the dead o' However that may be, none of my readers will omit to observe, that here is a reference to the above-mentioned texts of the first epistle to the Corinthians, and the first to the Thessalonians. 6. It is, I suppose, with regard to the expectation of the resurrection of the body, that, as Origen says, Celsus" called the christians ‘a sort of men that were very fond of “ the body.” And yet in another place he says: ‘Is P it not ‘ exceeding absurd, that you should desire and hope for the ‘ resurrection of the same body, as if we had nothing more ‘ excellent, nor more precious; and yet to expose it to all ‘manner of sufferings as a thing of no value 3’ This needs no answer; but it ought to be observed, that Celsus here again lets us know, that christians were then in a suffering condition; and he bears testimony to their steadiness and fortitude under the tortures, and all the variety of sufferings, which they met with. This ought to be taken notice of. 7. “But,’ ‘, says Celsus, ‘omitting many things that might ‘ be alleged against what they say of their master, let us allow him to be truly an angel. Is he the first, and the only one, that has come? or, have there been others before ? If they should say, he only : they are easily convicted of falsehood. For they say, that others have often COIsle And in particular, that there came an angel to his sepulchre: some say one, others, two, to tell the women, that he was risen : for the Son of God, it seems, could not open the sepulchre, but wanted another to remove the stone. And there came also an angel to the carpenter about Mary’s pregnancy; and another angel to direct them to take the child, and flee. And what need is there to reckon up particularly all that were sent to Moses, and others ?? The design of this argument is to draw off christians from

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their peculiar veneration for Jesus. He reminds them, therefore, that there had been, even according to themselves, many other messengers from God, whom they might respect as well as him. From this passage we learn, that the main point with christians was a faith in Jesus, whom they esteemed their master: nor would they forsake him upon any account. Beside the references to the conception of Jesus in the womb of his mother Mary, and his flight into Egypt, observed formerly, here are also references to many circumstances of our Saviour's resurrection, as related in the gospels. There was a stone at the door of the sepulchre : an angel came, and rolled it away : women came to the sepulchre, who saw there an angel: which also told them, that Jesus was risen. The resurrection of Jesus was recorded by more than one : for Celsus observes, that some said there was one, others two, angels, who told the women that Jesus was risen. So it is in our gospels. For St. Matthew xxviii. 5, Mark xvi. 5, mention but one angel. Luke xxiv. 4, and John xx. 12, speak of two angels. But the angel did not remove the stone, as Celsus insinuates, because Jesus was not himself able to do it; but it was fit, that so great a person as Jesus, should have the attendance and service of angels upon so great an occasion, as his resurrection from the grave. Finally, any one may now judge, whether Celsus was not well acquainted with our gospels, and whether he has not given a very valuable testimony to them. 8. I shall here take another passage, somewhat resembling that alleged just now. “After these things,’ says Origen, he bespeaks us in “ this manner. How much better were it for you, since you affect novelties, to attend to some other of those who have died nobly, and to whom that fiction of deity might be better applied ? For instance, if you did not like Hercules, nor Esculapius, nor others already consecrated, you had Orpheus, a man endowed with a holy spirit, as all allow, who likewise suffered a violent death. But, perhaps, he has been already taken by some others. Well then, you might have thought of Anaxarchus, who when thrown into a mortar, and cruelly pounded in it, despised it all, saying ; “Beat on, beat the case of Anaxarchus. For you do not beat him.” Which is, indeed, the saying of a divine spirit. But here you are prevented by some naturalists, who have already followed him. Still, had you not Epictetus, who * I, vi, sect. 53. p. 367.

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