THE DUEL BETWEEN PETER AND SIMON
IN PS-CLEMENTS RECOGNITIONS:
CHAP. V.--SIMON MAGUS, A FORMIDABLE
When Peter had thus spoken to us, Niceta asks permission to say something to him; and Peter
having granted permission, he says: "With your. pardon, I beseech you, my lord Peter, to hear me, who am very anxious for
thee, and who am afraid lest, in the contest which you have in band with Simon, you should seem to be overmatched. For it
very frequently happens that he who defends the truth does not gain the victory, since the hearers are either prejudiced,
or have no great interest in the better cause. But over and above all this, Simon himself is a most vehement orator, trained
in the dialectic art, and in the meshes of syllogisms; and what is worse than all, he is greatly skilled in the magic art.
And therefore I fear, test haply, being so strongly fortified on every side, he shall be thought to be defending the truth,
whilst he is alleging falsehoods, in the presence of those who do not know him. For neither should we ourselves have been
able to escape
from him, and to be converted to
the Lord, had it not been that, while we were his assistants, and the sharers of his errors, we had ascertained that he was
a deceiver and a magician."
CHAP. VI.--SIMON MAGUS: HIS WICKEDNESS.
When Niceta had thus spoken, Aquila also, asking that he might be permitted to speak,
proceeded in manner following: "Receive,
I entreat thee, most excellent Peter, the assurance of my love towards thee; for indeed I also am extremely anxious on thy
account. And do not blame us in this, for indeed to be concerned for any one cometh of afection; whereas to be indifferent
is no less than hatred. But I call God to witness that I feel for thee, not as
knowing thee to be weaker in debate--for indeed I was never present at any dispute in which thou wert engaged,--bit because
I well know the impieties of this man, I think of thy reputation, and at the same time the souls of the hearers, anti above
all, the interests of the truth itself. For this magician is vehement towards all things that he wishes, and wicked above
measure. For in all things we know him well, since from boyhood we have been assistants and ministers of his wickedness; and
had not the love
of God rescued is from
him, we should even now be engaged in the same evil deeds with him. But a certain inborn love towards God rendered his wickedness
hateful to us, and the worship of God attractive to us. Whence I think also that
it was the work of Divine Providence, that we, being first made his associates, should take knowledge in what manner or by
what art the effects the prodigies which he seems to work. For who is there that would not be astonished at the wonderful
things which he does? Who would not think that he was a god come down from heaven for the salvation of men? For myself, I
confess, if I had not known Latin intimately, and had taken part in his doings, I would easily have been carried away with
him. Whence it was no great thing for us to be separated from his society, knowing as we did that he depends upon magic arts
anti wicked devices. But if thou also thyself wish to know all about him--who, what, and whence he is, and bow he contrives
what he does--then listen.
CHAP. VII.--SIMON MAGUS: HIS HISTORY.
"This Simon's father was Antonius, and his mother Rachel. By nation he is a Samaritan, from
a village of the Gettones; by profession a magician yet exceedingly well trained in the Greek literature; desirous of glory,
and boasting above all the human race, so that he wishes himself to be believed to be an exalted power, which is above God
the Creator, and to be thought to be the Christ, and to be called the Standing One. And he uses this name as implying that
he can never be dissolved, asserting that his flesh is so compacted by the power of his divinity, that it can endure to eternity.
Hence, therefore, he is called the Standing One, as though he cannot fall by any corruption.
CHAP. VIII.--SIMON MAGUS: HIS HISTORY.
"For after that John the Baptist was killed, as you yourself also know, when Dositheus had
broached his heresy, with thirty other chief disciples, and one woman, who was called Luna--whence also these thirty
appear to have been appointed with reference to the number of the days, according to the course of the moon--this Simon ambitious
of evil glory, as we have said, goes to Dositheus, and pretending friendship, entreats him, that if any one of those thirty
should die, he should straightway substitute him in room of the dead: for it was contrary to their rule either to exceed the
fixed number, or to admit any one who was unknown, or not yet proved; whence also the rest, desiring to become worthy of the
place and number, are eager in every way to please, according to the institutions of their sect each one of those who aspire
after admittance into the number, hoping that he may be deemed worthy to be put into the place of the deceased, when, as we
have said, any one dies. Therefore Dositheus, being greatly urged by this man, introduced Simon when a vacancy occurred among
CHAP. IX.--SIMON MAGUS: HIS PROFESSION.
"But not long after he fell in love with that woman whom they call Luna; and he confided all
things to us as his friends: how he was a magician, and how he loved Luna, and how, being desirous of glory, he was unwilling
to enjoy her ingloriously, but that he was waiting patiently till he could enjoy her honourably; yet so if we also would conspire
with him towards the accomplishment of his desires. And he promised that, as a reward of this service, he would cause us to
be invested with the highest honours, and we should be believed by men to be gods; 'Only, however, on condition,' says he,
'that you confer the chief place upon me, Simon, who by magic art am able to show many signs and prodigies, by means of which
either my glory or our sect may be established. For I am able to render myself invisible to those who wish to lay hold of
me, and again to be visible when I am willing to be seen. If I wish to flee, I can dig through the
mountains, and pass through rocks
as if they were clay. If I should throw myself headlong from a lofty mountain, I should be borne unhurt to the earth, as if
I were held up; when bound, I can loose myself, and bind those who had bound me; being shut up in prison, I can make the barriers
open of their own accord; I can render statues animated, so that those who see suppose that they are men. I can make new trees
suddenly spring up, and produce sprouts at once. I can throw myself into the fire, and not be burnt; I can change my countenance,
so that I cannot be recognised; but I can show people that I have two faces. I shall change myself into a sheep or a goat;
I shall make a beard to grow upon little boys; I shall ascend by flight into the air; I shall exhibit abundance of gold, and
shall make and unmake kings. I shall be worshipped as God; I shall have divine honours publicly assigned to me, so that an
image of me shall be set up, and I shall be worshipped and adored as God. And what need of more words? Whatever I wish, that
I shall be able to do. For already I have achieved many things by way of experiment. In short,' says he, 'once when my mother
Rachel ordered me to go to the field to reap, and I saw a sickle lying, I ordered it to go and reap; and it reaped ten times
more than the others. Lately, I produced many new sprouts from the earth, and made them bear leaves and produce fruit in a
moment; and the nearest mountain I successfully bored through.'
CHAP X.--SIMON MAGUS: HIS DECEPTION.
"But when he spoke thus of the production of sprouts and the perforation of the mountain, I
was confounded on this account, because he wished to deceive even us, in whom he seemed to place confidence; for we knew that
those things bad been from the days of our fathers, which he represented as having been done by himself lately. We then, although
we heard these atrocities from him, and worse than these, yet we followed up his crimes, and suffered others to be deceived
by him, telling also many lies on his behalf; and this before he did any of the things which he had promised, so that while
as yet he had done nothing, he was by some thought to be God.
CHAP. XI.--SIMON MAGUS, AT THE HEAD
SECT OF DOSITHEUS.
"Meantime, at the outset, as soon as he was reckoned among the thirty disciples
of Dositheus, he began to depreciate Dositheus himself, saying that he did not teach purely or perfectly, and that this was
the result not of ill intention, but. of ignorance. But Dositheus, when he perceived that Simon was depreciating him, fearing
lest his reputation among men might be obscured (for he himself was supposed to be the Standing One), moved with rage, when
they met as usual at the school, seized a rod, and began to beat Simon; hut suddenly the rod seemed to pass through his body,
as if it had been smoke. On which Dositheus, being astonished, says to him, 'Tell me if thou art the Standing One, that I
may adore thee.' And when Simon answered that he was, then Dositheus, perceiving that he himself was not the Standing One,
fell down and worshipped him, and gave up his own place as chief to Simon, ordering all the rank of thirty men to obey him;
himself taking the inferior place which Simon formerly occupied. Not long after this he died.
CHAP. XII.--SIMON MAGUS AND LUNA.
"Therefore, after the death of Dositheus Simon took Luna to himself; and with her he still
goes about, as you see, deceiving multitudes, and asserting that he himself is a certain power which is above God the Creator,
while Luna, who is with him, has been brought down from the higher heavens, and that she is Wisdom, the mother of all things,
for whom, says he, the Greeks and barbarians contending, were able in some measure to see an image of her; but of herself,
as she is, as the dweller with the first and only God, they were wholly ignorant. Propounding these and other things of the
same sort, he has deceived many. But I ought also to state this, which I remember that I myself saw. Once, when this Luna
of his was in a certain tower, a great multitude had assembled to see her, and were standing around the tower on all sides;
but she was seen by all the people to lean forward, and to look out through all the windows of that tower. Many other wonderful
things lie did and does; so that men, being astonished at them, think that he himself is the great God.
CHAP. XIII.--SIMON MAGUS: SECRET
OF HIS MAGIC.
"Now when Niceta and I once asked him to explain to us how these things could be effected by
magic art, and what was the nature of that thing, Simon began thus to explain
it to us as his associates. ' I have,' said he, ' made the soul of a boy, unsullied and violently slain, and invoked by unutterable
adjurations, to assist me; and by it all is done that I command.' 'But,' said I 'is it possible for a soul to do these things?'
He answered: 'I would have you know this, that the soul of man holds the next place after God, when once it is set free from
the darkness of his body. And immediately it acquires prescience: wherefore it is invoked for necromancy.' Then I answered:
'Why, then, do not the souls of persons who are slain take vengeance on their slayers?' 'Do you not remember,' said he, 'that
I told you, that when it goes out of the body it acquires knowledge of the future?' 'I remember,' said I. 'Well, then,' said
he, 'as soon as it goes out of the body, it immediately knows that there is a judgment to come, and that every one shall suffer
punishment for those evils that he hath done; and therefore they are unwilling to take vengeance on their slayers, because
they themselves are enduring torments for their own evil deeds which they had done here, and they know that severer punishments
await them in the judgment. Moreover, they are not permitted by the angels who preside over them to go out, or to do anything.'
'Them' I replied, 'if the angels do not permit them to come hither, or to do what they please, how can the souls obey the
magician who invokes them?' 'It is not,' said he, 'that they grant indulgence to the souls that are willing to come: but when
the presiding angels are adjured by one greater than themselves, they have the excuse of our violence who adjure them, to
permit the souls which we invoke to go out: for they do not sin who suffer violence, but we who impose necessity upon them.'
Thereupon Niceta, not able longer to refrain, hastily answered, as indeed I also was about to do, only I wished first to get
information from him on several points; but, as I said, Niceta, anticipating me, said: 'And do you not fear the day of judgment,
who do violence to angels, and invoke souls, and deceive men, and bargain for divine honour to yourself from then? And how
do you persuade us that there shall be no judgment, as some of the Jews confess, and that souls are not immortal, as many
suppose, though you see them with your very eyes, and receive from them assurance of the divine judgment?'
CHAP. XIV.--SIMON MAGUS, PROFESSES
"At those sayings of his Simon grew pale; but after a little, recollecting himself, he thus
answered: 'Do not think that I am a man of your race. I am neither magician, nor lover of Luna, nor son of Antonius. For before
my mother Rachel and he came together, she, still a virgin, conceived me, while it was in my power to be either small or great,
and to appear as a man among men. Therefore I have chosen you first as my friends, for the purpose of trying you, that
I may place you first in my heavenly and unspeakable places when I shall have proved you. Therefore I have pretended to be
a man, that I might more clearly ascertain if you cherish entire affection towards me.' But when I heard that, judging him
indeed to be a wretch, yet wondering at his impudence; and blushing for him, and at the same thee fearing lest he should attempt
some evil against us, I beckoned to Niceta to feign for a little along with me, and said to him: 'Be not angry with us, corruptible
men, O thou incorruptible God, but rather accept our affection, and our mind willing to know who God is; for we did not till
now know who thou art, nor did we perceive that thou art he whom we were seeking.'
CHAP. XV.--SIMON MAGUS, PROFESSED
MADE A BOY OF AIR.
"As we spoke these and such like words with looks suited to the occasion, this most vain fellow
believed that we were deceived; and being thereby the more elated, he added also this: 'I shall now be propitious to you,
for the affection which you bear towards me as God; for you loved me while you did not know me, and were seeking me in ignorance.
But I would not have you doubt that this is truly to be God, when one is able to become small or great as he pleases; for
I am able to appear to man in whatever manner I please. Now, then, I shall begin to unfold to you what is true. Once on a
thee, I, by my power, turning air into water, and water again into blood, and solidifying it into flesh, formed a new human
creature--a boy--and produced a much nobler work than God the Creator. For He created a man from the earth, but I from air--a
far more difficult matter; and again I unmade him and restored him to air, but not until I had placed his picture and image
in my bed-chamber, as a proof and memorial of my work.' Then we understood that he spake concerning that boy, whose soul,
after he had been slain by violence, he made use of for those services which he required.
CHAP. XVI.--SIMON MAGUS: HOPELESSNESS
But Peter, hearing these things, said with: tears: "Greatly do I wonder at the infinite
patience of God, and,
on the other hand, at the audacity of human rashness in some. For what further reason can be found to persuade Simon that
God judges the unrighteous, since he persuades himself that he employs the obedience of souls for the service of his crimes?
But, in truth, he is deluded by demons. Yet, although he is sure by these very things that souls are immortal, and are judged
for the deeds which they have done, and although he thinks that he really sees those things which we believe by faith; though,
as I said, he is deluded by demons, yet he thinks that he sees the very substance of the soul. How shall such a man, I say,
be brought to confess either that he acts wickedly while he occupies such an evil position, or that he is to be judged for
those things which he hath done, who, knowing the judgment of God, despises it, and shows himself an enemy to God, and dares
commit such horrid things? Wherefore it is certain, my brethren, that some oppose the truth and religion of God, not because
it appears to them that reason can by no means stand with faith, but because they are either involved in excess of wickedness,
or prevented by their own evils, or elated by the swelling of their heart, so that they do not even believe those things which
they think that they see with their own eyes.
CHAP. XVII.--MEN ENEMIES TO GOD.
"But, inasmuch as inborn affection towards God the Creator seemed to suffice for salvation
to those who loved Him, the enemy studies to pervert this affection in men, and to render them hostile and ungrateful to their
Creator. For I call heaven and earth to witness, that if God permitted the enemy to rage as much as he desires. all men should
have perished long are now; but for His mercy's sake God doth not suffer him. But if men would turn their affection towards
God, all would doubtless be saved, even if for some faults they might seem to be corrected for righteousness But now the most
of men have been made enemies of God, whose hearts the wicked one has entered, and has turned aside towards himself the affection
which God the Creator had implanted in them, that they might have it towards Him. But of the rest, who seemed for a thee to
be watchful, the enemy, appearing in a phantasy of glory and splendour, and promising them certain great and mighty things,
has caused their mind and heart to wander away from God; yet it is for some just reason that he is permitted to accomplish
CHAP. XVIII.--RESPONSIBILITY OF MEN.
"To this Aquila answered: "How, then, are men in fault, if the wicked one, transforming himself
into the brightness of light, promises to men greater things than the Creator Himself does?" Then Peter answered: "I think,"
says he "that nothing is more unjust than this; and now listen while I tell you how unjust it is. If your son, whom you have
trained and nourished with all care, and brought to man's estate, should be ungrateful to you, and should leave you and go
to another, whom perhaps he may have seen to be richer, and should show to him the honour which he owed to you, and, through
hope of greater profit, should deny his birth, and refuse you your paternal rights, would this seem to you right or wicked?"
Then Aquila answered: "It is manifest to all that it would be wicked." Then Peter said: "If you say that this would be wicked
among men, how much more so is it in the case of God, who, above all men, is worthy of honour from men; whose benefits we
not only enjoy, but by whose means and power it is that we began to be when we were not, and whom, if we please, we shall
obtain from Him to be for ever in blessedness ! In order, therefore, that the unfaithful may be distinguished from the faithful,
and the pious from the impious, it has been permitted to the wicked one to use those arts by which the affections of every
one towards the true Father may be proved. But if there were in truth some strange God, were it right to leave our own God,
who created us, and who is our Father and our Maker, and to pass over to another?" "God forbid!" said Aquila. Then said Peter:
"How, then, shall we say that the wicked one is the cause of our sin, when this is done by permission of God, that those may
be proved and condemned in the day of judgment, who, allured by greater promises, have abandoned their duty towards their
true Father and Creator; while those who have kept the faith and the love of their own Father, even with poverty, if so it
has befallen, and with tribulation, may enjoy heavenly gifts and immortal dignities in His kingdom But we shall expound these
things more carefully at another time. Meantime I desire to know what Simon did after this."
CHAP. XIX.--DISPUTATION BEGUN.
And Niceta answered: "When he perceived that we had found him out, having spoken to one another
concerning his crimes we left him, and came to Zacchaeus, telling him those same things which we have now told to you. But
he, receiving us most kindly, and instructing us concerning the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, enrolled us in the number
of the faithful." When Niceta had done speaking, Zacchaeus, who had gone out a little before, entered, saying, "It is thee,
O Peter, that yon proceed to the disputation; for a great crowd, collected in the court of the house, is awaiting you, in
the midst of whom stands Simon, supported by many attendants." Then Peter, when he heard this, ordering me to withdraw for
the sake of prayer (for I had not yet been washed from the sins which I had committed in ignorance), said to the rest, "Brethren,
let its pray that God, for His unspeakable mercy through His Christ, would help me going out on behalf of the salvation of
men who have been created by Him." Having said this, at, it having prayed, he went forth to the court of the house, in which
a great multitude of people were assembled; and when he saw them all looking intently on him in profound silence, and Simon
the magician standing in the midst of them like a standard-bearer, he began in manner following.
CHAP. XX.--THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND
"Peace be to all of you who are prepared to give your right hands to truth: for whosoever
are obedient to it seem indeed themselves to confer some favour upon God; whereas they do themselves obtain from Him the gift
of His greatest bounty, walking in His paths of righteousness. Wherefore the first duty of all is to inquire, into the righteousness
of God and His kingdom; His righteousness, that we may be taught to act rightly; His kingdom, that we may know what is
the reward appointed for labour and patience; in which kingdom there is indeed a bestowal of eternal good things upon the
good, but upon those who have acted contrary to the will of God, a worthy infliction of penalties in proportion to the doings
of every one. It becomes you, therefore, whilst you are here,--that is, whilst you are in the present life,--to ascertain
the will of God, while there is opportunity also of doing it. For if any one, before he amends his doings, wishes to investigate
concerning things which he cannot discover, such investigation will be foolish and ineffectual. For the thee is short, and
the judgment of God shall be occupied with deeds, not questions. Therefore before all things let us inquire into this, what
or in what manner we must act that we may merit to obtain eternal life.
CHAP. XXI.--RIGHTEOUSNESS THE WAY
TO THE KINGDOM.
"For if we occupy the short thee of this life with vain and useless questions, we shall without
doubt go into the presence of God empty and void of good works, when, as I have said, our works shall be brought into judgment.
For everything has its own thee and place. This is the place, this the three of works; the world to come, that of recompenses.
That we may not therefore be entangled, by changing the order of places and times, let us inquire, in the first place, what
is the righteousness of God; so that, like persons going to set out on a journey, we may be filled with good works as with
abundant provision, so that we may be able to come to the kingdom of God, as to a very great city. For to those who think
aright, God is manifest even by the operations of the world which He hat made, using the evidence of His creation; and
therefore, since there ought to be no doubt! about God, we have now to inquire only about His righteousness inquiry concerning
secret and hidden things before we inquire into the works of righteousness, we ought to render to ourselves a reason, because
if acting well we shall merit to obtain salvation: then, going to God chaste and clean, we shall be filled with the Holy Spirit,
and shall know all things that are secret and hidden, without any cavilling of questions; whereas now, even if any one should
spend the whole of his life in inquiring into these things, he not only shall not be able to find them, but shall involve
himself in greater errors, because he did not first enter through the way of righteousness, and strive to reach the haven
CHAP. XXII.--RIGHTEOUSNESS; WHAT
"And therefore I advise that His righteousness be first inquired
into, that, pursuing our journey through it, and placed in the way of truth, we may be able to find the true Prophet, running
not with swiftness of foot, but with goodness of works, and that, enjoying His guidance, we may be trader no danger of mistaking
the way. For if under His guidance we shall merit to enter that city to which we desire to come, all things concerning which
we now inquire we shall see with our eyes, being made, as it were, heirs of all things. Understand, therefore, that the way
is this course of our life; the travellers are those who do good works; the gate is the true Prophet, of whom we speak; the
city is the kingdom in which dwells the Almighty Father, whom only those can see who are of pure heart. Let us not then
think the labour of this journey hard, because at the end of it there shall be rest. For the true Prophet Himself also from
the beginning of the world, through the course of time, hastens to rest. For He is present with us at all times; and if at
any thee it is necessary, He appears and corrects us, that He may bring to eternal life those who obey Him. Therefore this
is my judgment, as also it is the pleasure of the true Prophet, that inquiry should first be made concerning righteousness,
by those especially who profess that they know God. If therefore any one has anything to propose which he thinks better, let
him speak; and when he has spoken, let him hear, hut with patience and quietness: for in order to this at the first, by way
of salutation, I prayed for peace to you all."
CHAP. XXIII.--SIMON REFUSES PEACE.
To this Simon answered: "We have no need of your peace; for if there be peace and concord,
we shall not be able to make any advance towards the discovery of truth. For robbers and debauchees have peace among themselves,
and every wickedness agrees with itself; and if we have met with this view, that for the sake of peace we should give assent
to all that is said, we shall confer no benefit upon the hearers; but. on the contrary, we shall impose upon them, and shall
depart friends. Wherefore, do not invoke peace, but rather battle, which is the mother of peace; and if you can, exterminate
errors. And do not seek for friendship obtained by unfair admissions; for this I would have you know, above all, that when
two fight with each other, then there will be peace when one has been defeated and has fallen. And therefore fight as best
you can, and do not expect peace without war, which is impossible; or if it can be attained, show us how."
CHAP. XXIV.--PETER'S EXPLANATION.
To this Peter answered: "Hear with all attention, O men, what we say. Let us suppose that this
world is a great plain, and that from two states, whose kings are at variance with each other, two generals were sent to fight:
and suppose the general of the good king gave this counsel, that both armies should without bloodshed submit to the authority
of the better king, whereby all should be safe without danger; but that the opposite general should say, No, hut we must fight;
that not he who is worthy, but who is stronger, may reign, with those who shall escape;--which, I ask you, would you rather
choose? I doubt not hut that you would give your hands to the better king, with the safety of all. And I do not now wish,
as Simon says that I do, that assent should be given, for the sake of peace, to those things that are spoken amiss but that
truth be sought for with quietness and order.
CHAP.XXV.--PRINCIPLES ON WHICH THE
DISCUSSION SHOULD BE CONDUCTED.
"For some, in the contest of disputations, when they
perceive that their error is confuted, immediately begin, for the sake of making good their retreat, to create a disturbance,
and to stir up strifes, that it may not be manifest to all that they are defeated; and therefore I frequently entreat that
the investigation of the matter in dispute may be conducted with all patience and quietness, so that if perchance anything
seem to be not rightly spoken, it may be allowed to go back over it, and explain it more distinctly. For sometimes a thing
may be spoken in one way and heard in another, while it is either advanced too obscurely, or not attended to with sufficient
care ; and on this account I desire that our conversation should be conducted patiently, so that neither should the one snatch
it away from the other, nor should the unseasonable speech of one contradicting interrupt the speech of the other; and that
we should not cherish the desire of finding fault, but that we should be allowed, as I have said, to go over again what has
not been clearly enough spoken, that by fairest examination the knowledge of the truth may become clearer. For we ought to
know, that if any one is conquered by the truth, it is not he that is conquered, but the ignorance which is in him, which
is the worst of all demons; so that he who can drive it out receives the palm of salvation. For it is our purpose to benefit
the hearers, not that we may conquer badly, but that we may be well conquered for the acknowledgment of the truth. For if
our speech be actuated by the desire of seeking the truth, even although we shall speak anything imperfectly through human
frailty, God in His unspeakable goodness will fill up secretly in the understandings of the hearers those things that are
lacking. For He is righteous; and according to the purpose of every one, He enables some to find easily what they seek, while
to others He renders even that obscure which is before their eyes. Since, then, the way of God is the way of peace, let us
with peace seek the things which are God's. If any one has anything to advance in answer to this, let him do so; but if there
is no one who wishes to answer, I shall begin to speak, and I myself shall bring forward what another may object to me, and
shall refute it."
CHAP. XXVI.--SIMON'S INTERRUPTION.
When therefore Peter had begun to continue his discourse, Simon, interrupting his speech, said:
"Why do you hasten to speak whatever you please? I understand your tricks. You wish to bring forward those matters whose explanation
you have well studied, that you may appear to the ignorant crowd to be speaking well; but I shall not allow you this subterfuge.
Now therefore, since you promise, as a brave man, to answer to all that any one chooses to bring forward, be pleased to answer
me in the first place." Then Peter said: "I am ready, only provided that our discussion may be with peace." Then Simon said:
"Do not you see, O simpleton, that in pleading for peace you act in opposition to your Master, and that what you propose is
not suitable to him who promises that he will overthrow ignorance? Or, if you are right in asking peace from the audience,
then your Master was wrong in saying, 'I have not come to send peace on earth, but a sword. 1] For either you say well, and
he not well; or else, if your Master said well, then you not at all well: for you do not understand that your statement is
contrary to his, whose disciple you profess yourself to be."
Then Peter: "Neither He who sent me did amiss in sending a sword upon
the earth, nor do I act contrary to Him in asking peace of the hearers. But you both unskilfully and rashly find fault with
what you do not understand: for you have heard that the Master came not to send peace on earth; but that He also said, 'Blessed
are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the very sons of God," you have not heard. Wherefore my sentiments are not
different from those of the Master when I recommend peace, to the keepers of which He assigned blessedness." Then Simon said:
"In your desire to answer for your Master, O Peter, you have brought a much more serious charge against him, if he himself
came not to make peace, yet enjoined upon others to keep it. Where, then, is the consistency of that other saying of his,
'it is enough for the disciple that he be as his master? ' " 
To this Peter answered: "Our Master, who was the true Prophet, and
ever mindful of Himself, neither contradicted Himself, nor enjoined upon us anything different from what Himself practised.
For whereas He said, ' I am not come to send peace on earth, but a sword; and henceforth you shall see father separated from
son, son from father, husband from wife and wife from husband, mother from daughter and daughter from mother, brother from
brother, father-in-law from daughter-in-law friend from friend,' all these contain the doctrine of peace; and ; will tell
you how. At the beginning of His preaching, as wishing to invite and lead all to salvation, and induce them to bear patiently
labours and trials, He blessed the poor, and promised that they should obtain the kingdom of heaven for their endurance of
poverty, in order that under the influence of such a hope they might bear with equanimity the wright of poverty, despising
covetousness; for covetousness is one, and the greatest, of most pernicious sins. But He promised also that the hungry and
the thirsty should be satisfied with the eternal blessings of righteousness, in order that they might bear poverty patiently,
and not be led by it to undertake any unrighteous work. In like manner also, He said that the pure in heart are blessed, and
that thereby they should see God, in order that every one desiring so great a good might keep himself from evil and polluted
"Thus, therefore, our Master, inviting His disciples to patience, impressed
upon them that the blessing of peace was also to be preserved with the labour of patience. But, on the other hand, He mourned
over those who lived in riches and luxury, who bestowed nothing upon the poor; proving that they must render an account, because
they did not pity their neighbours, even when they were in poverty, whom they ought to I love as themselves. And by such sayings
as these He brought some indeed to obey Him, but others He rendered hostile. The believers therefore, and the obedient, He
charges to have peace among themselves. and says to them, ' Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the very
sons of God.' But to those who not only did not believe, but set themselves in opposition to His doctrine, He proclaims
the war of the word and of confutation, and says that ' henceforth ye shall see son separated from father, and husband from
wife, and daughter from mother. and brother from brother, and daughter-in-law from mother-in-law, and a man's foes shall be
they of his own house.' For in every house, when there begins to be a difference betwixt believer and unbeliever, there
is necessarily a contest: the unbelievers, on the one hand. fighting against the faith; and the believers on the other, confuting
the old error and the vices of sins in them.
TO THE SONS OF PEACE.
"In like manner, also, during the last period of His teaching, He wages
war against the scribes and Pharisees, charging them with evil deeds and unsound doctrine, and with hiding the key of knowledge
which they had handed down to them from Moses, by which the gate of the heavenly kingdom might be opened. But when our
Master sent us forth to preach, He commanded as, that into whatsoever city or house we should enter, we should say, 'Peace
be to this house.' 'And if,' said He, 'a son of peace be there, your peace shall come upon him; but if there be not, your
peace shall return to you.' Also that, going out from that house or city, we should shake off upon them the very dust which
adhered to our feet. But it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that
city or house.' This indeed He commanded to be done at length, if first the word of truth be preached in the city or house,
whereby they who receive the faith of the truth may become sons of peace and sons of God; and those who will not receive it
may be convicted as enemies of peace and of God.
"Thus, therefore, we, observing the commands of our Master, first
offer peace to our hearers, that the way of salvation may be known without any tumult. But if any one do not receive the words
of peace, nor acquiesce in the truth, we know how to direct against him the war of the word, and to rebuke him sharply by
confuting his ignorance and charging home upon him his sins. Therefore of necessity we offer peace, that if any one is a son
of peace, our peace may come upon him; but from him who makes himself an enemy of peace, our peace shall return to ourselves.
We do not therefore, as you say, propose peace by agreement with the wicked, for indeed we should straightway have given you
the right hand; but only in order that, through our discussing quietly and patiently, it might be more easily ascertained
by the hearers which is the true speech. But if you differ and disagree with yourself, how shall you stand? He must of necessity
fall who is divided in himself; ' for every kingdom divided against itself shall not stand.' If you have aught to say to
this, say on."
Then said Simon: "I am astonished at your folly. For you so propound the
words of your Master, as if it were held to be certain concerning him that he is a prophet; while I can very easily prove
that he often contradicted himself. In short, I shall refute you from those words which you have yourself brought forward.
For you say, that he said that every kingdom or every city divided in itself shall not stand; and elsewhere you say, that
he said that he would send a sword, that he might separate those who are in one house, so that son shall be divided from father,
daughter from mother, brother from brother; so that if there be five in one house, three shall be divided against two, and
two against three. if, then, everything that is divided falls, he who makes divisions furnishes causes of falling; and
if he is such, assuredly he is wicked. Answer this if you can."
Then Peter: "Do not rashly take exception, O Simon, against the
things which you do not understand. In the first place, I shall answer your assertion, that I set forth the words of my Master,
and from them resolve matters about which there is still doubt. Our Lord, when He sent us apostles to preach, enjoined us
to teach all nations the things which were committed to us. We cannot therefore speak those things as they were spoken
by Himself. For our commission is not to speak, but to teach those things, and from them to show how every one of them rests
upon truth. Nor, again, are we permitted to speak anything of our own. For we are sent; and of necessity he who is sent delivers
the message as he has been ordered, and sets forth the will of the sender. For if I should speak anything different from what
He who sent me enjoined me, I should be a false apostle, not saying what I am commanded to say, but what seems good to myself.
Whoever does this, evidently wishes to show himself to be better than he is by whom he is sent, and without doubt is a traitor.
If, on the contrary, he keeps by the things that he is commanded, and brings forward most clear assertions of them, it will
appear that he is accomplishing the work of an apostle; and it is by striving to fulfill this that I displease you. Blame
me not, therefore, because I bring forward the words of Him who sent me. But if there is aught in them that is not fairly
spoken, you have liberty to confute me; but this can in no wise be done, for He is a prophet, and cannot be contrary to Himself.
But if you do not think that He is a prophet, let this be first inquired into."
CHAP. XXXIV.--ORDER OF PROOF.
Then said Simon: "I have no need to learn this from you, but how these things agree with one
another. For if he shall
be shown to be inconsistent, he shall be proved at the same thee not to be a prophet." Then says Peter: "But if I first show Him to be a prophet, it will follow that what seems to be inconsistency is not such. For no one can be proved to
be a prophet merely by consistency,
because it is possible for many to attain this; but if consistency does not make a prophet, much more inconsistency does not. Because, therefore, there are many
hings which to some seem inconsistent,
which yet have consistency in them on a more profound investigation; as also other things which seem to have consistency, but which, being more carefully discussed, are found to be inconsistent; for this reason I do not think there is
any better way to judge of these things
than to ascertain in the first instance whether He be a prophet who has spoken those things which appear to be inconsistent. For it is evident that, if He be
found a prophet, those things which
seem to be contradictory must have consistency, but are misunderstood. Concerning these things, therefore, proofs will be properly demanded. For we apostles are sent
to expound the sayings and affirm the
judgments of Him who has sent us; but we are not ommissioned to say anything of our own, but to unfold the truth, as I have said, of His words."
CHAP. XXXV.--HOW ERROR CANNOT STAND WITH TRUTH.
Then Simon said: "Instruct us, therefore,
how it can be consistent that he who causes divisions, which divisions cause those who are divided to fall, can either seem
to be good, or to have come for the salvation of men." Then Peter said: "I will tell you how our Master said that every, kingdom
and every house divided against itself cannot stand; and whereas He Himself did this, see how it makes for salvation. By the
word of truth He certainly divides the kingdom of the world, which is founded in error, and every home in it, that error may
fall, and truth may reign. But if it happen to any house, that error, being introduced by any one, divides the truth, then,
where error has gained a footing, it is certain that truth cannot stand." Then Simon said: "But it is uncertain whether your
master divides error or truth." Then Peter: "That belongs to another question; but if you are agreed that everything which
is divided falls, it remains that I show, if only you will hear in peace, that our Jesus has divided and dispelled error by
Then said Simon: "Do not repeat again
and again your talk of peace, but expound briefly what it is that you think or believe." Peter answered: "Why are you afraid
of hearing frequently of peace? or do you not know that peace is the perfection of law? For wars and disputes spring from
sins; and where there is no sin, there is peace of soul; but where there is peace, truth is found in disputations, righteousness
in works." Then Simon: "You seem to me not to be able to profess what you think." Then Peter: "I shall speak, but according
to my own judgment, not under constraint of your tricks. For I desire that what is salutary and profitable be brought to the
knowledge of all and therefore I shall not delay to state it as briefly as possible. There is one God; and He is the creator
of the world. a righteous judge, rendering to every one at some time or other according to his deeds. But now for the assertion
of these things I know that countless thousands of words can be called forth."
CHAP. XXXVII.--SIMON'S SUBTLETY.
Then Simon said: "I admire, indeed, the
quickness of your wit, yet I do not embrace the error of your faith. For you have wisely foreseen that you may be contradicted;
and you have even politely confessed, that for the assertion of these things countless thousands of words will be called forth,
for no one agrees with the profession of your faith. In short, as to there being one God, and the world being His work, who
can receive this doctrine? Neither, I think, any one of the Pagans, even if he be an unlearned man, and certainly no one of
the philosophers; but not even the rudest and most wretched of the Jews, nor I myself, who am well acquainted with their law."
Then Peter said: "Put aside the opinions of those who arc not here, and tell us face to face what is your own." Then Simon
said: "I can state what I really think; but this consideration makes me reluctant to do so, that if I say what is neither
acceptable to you, nor seems right to this unskilled rabble, you indeed, as confounded, will straightway shut your ears, that
they may not he polluted with blasphemy, forsooth, and will take to flight because yon cannot find an answer; while the unreasoning
populace will assent to you, and embrace you as one teaching those things Which are commonly received among them; and will
curse me, as professing things new and unheard of, and instilling my error into the minds of others."
CHAP. XXXVIII.--SIMON'S CREED.
Then Peter: "Are not you making use of
long preambles, as you accused us of doing, because you have no truth to bring forward? or if you have, begin without circumlocution,
if you have so much confidence. And if, indeed, what you say be displeasing to any one of the hearers, he will withdraw; and
those who remain shall be compelled by your assertion to approve what is true. Begin, therefore, to expound what seemeth to
yon to be right." Then Simon said: "I say that there are many gods; but that there is one incomprehensible and unknown to
all, and that He is the God of all these gods." Then Peter answered: "This God whom you assert to he incomprehensible and
unknown to all, can you prove His existence from the Scriptures of the Jews, which are held to be of authority, or from
some others of which we are all ignorant, or from the Greek authors, or from your own writings? Certainly you are at liberty
to speak from whatever writings you please, yet so that you first show that they are prophetic; for so their authority will
be held without question."
CHAP. XXXIX.--ARGUMENT FOR POLYTHEISM.
Then Simon said: "I shall make use of assertions
from the law of the Jews only. For it is manifest to all who take interest in religion, that this law is of universal authority,
yet that every one receives the understanding of this law according to his own judgment. For it has so been written by Him
who created the world, that the faith of things is made to depend upon it. Whence, whether any one wishes to bring forward
truth, or any one to bring forward falsehood, no assertion will be received without this law. Inasmuch, therefore, as my knowledge
is most fully in accordance with the law, I rightly declared that there are many gods, of whom one is more eminent than the
rest, and incomprehensible, even He who is God of gods. But that there are many gods, the law itself informs me. For, in the
first place, it says this in the passage where one in the figure of a serpent speaks to Eve, the first woman, 'On the day
ye eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, ye shall be as gods, that is, as those who made man; and after they
have tasted of the tree, God Himself testifies, saying to the rest of the gods, 'Behold, Adam is become as one of us; '
thus, therefore, it is manifest that there were many gods engaged in the making of man. Also, whereas at the first God said
to the other gods, 'Let us make man after our image and likeness;' also His saying, 'Let us drive him out;' and again,
'Come, let us go down, and confound their language;' all these things indicate that there are many gods. But this also
is written, 'Thou shalt not curse the gods, nor curse the chief of thy people ;' and again this writing, 'God alone led
them, and there was no strange god with them,' shows that there are many gods. There are also many other testimonies which
might be adduced from the law, not only obscure, but plain, by which it is taught that there are many gods. One of these
was chosen by lot, that he might be the god of the Jews. But it is not of him that I speak, but of that God who is also his
God, whom even the Jews themselves did not know. For he is not their God, but the God of those who know him."
CHAP. XL.--PETER'S ANSWER.
When Peter had heard this, he answered:
"Fear nothing, Simon: for, behold, we have neither shut our ears, nor fled; but we answer with words of truth to those things
which you have spoken falsely, asserting this first, that there is one God, even the God of the Jews, who is the only God,
the Creator of heaven and earth, who is also the God of all those whom you call gods. If, then, I shall show you that none
is superior to Him, but that He Himself is above all, you will confess that your error is above all." Then Simon said:
"Why, indeed, though I should be unwilling to confess it, would not the hearers who stand by charge me with unwillingness
to profess the things that are true?"
CHAP. XLI.--THE ANSWER, CONTINUED.
"Listen, then," says Peter, "that you
may know, first of all, that even if there are many gods, as you say, they are subject to the God of the Jews, to whom no
one is equal, than whom no one can be greater; for it is written that the prophet Moses thus spoke to the Jews: 'The Lord
your God is the God of gods, and the Lord of lords, the great God.' Thus, although there are many that are called gods,
yet He who is the God of the Jews is alone called the God of gods. For not every one that is called God is necessarily God.
Indeed, even Moses is called a god to Pharaoh, and it is certain that he was a man; and judges were called gods, and it
is evident that they were mortal. The idols also of the Gentiles are called gods, and we all know that they are not; but this
has been inflicted as a punishment on the wicked, that because they would not acknowledge the true God, they should regard
as God whatever form or image should occur to them. Because they refused to receive the knowledge of the One who, as I said,
is God of all, therefore it is permitted to them to have as gods those who can do nothing for their worshippers. For what
can either dead images or living creatures confer upon men, since the power of all things is with One?
CHAP. XLII.--GUARDIAN ANGELS.
"Therefore the name God is applied in
three ways: either because he to whom it is given is truly God, or because be is the servant of him who is truly; and
for the honour of the sender, that his authority may be full, he that is sent is called by the name of him who sends, as is
often done in respect of angels: for when they appear to a man, if he is a wise and intelligent man, he asks the name of him
who appears to him, that he may acknowledge at once the honour of the sent, and the authority of the sender. For every nation
has an angel, to whom God has committed the government of that nation; and when one of these appears, although he be thought
and called God by those over whom he presides, yet, being asked, he does not give such testimony to himself. For the Most
High God, who alone holds the power of all things, has divided all the nations of the earth into seventy-two parts, and over
these He hath appointed angels as princes. But to the one among the archangels who is greatest, was committed the government
of those who, before all others, received the worship and knowledge of the Most High God. But holy men also, as we have said,
are made gods to the wicked, as having received the power of life and death over them, as we mentioned above with respect
to Moses and the judges. Wherefore it is also written concerning them, 'Thou shalt not curse the gods, and thou shalt not
curse the prince of thy people.' Thus the princes of the several nations are called gods. But Christ is God of princes,
who is Judge of all. Therefore neither angels, nor men, nor any creature, can be truly gods, forasmuch as they arc placed
under authority, being created and changeable: angels, for they were not, and are; men, for they are mortal; and every creature,
for it is capable of dissolution, if only He dissolve it who made it. And therefore He alone is the true God, who not only
Himself lives, but also bestows life upon others, which He can also take away when it pleaseth Him.
CHAP. XLIII.--NO GOD BUT JEHOVAH.
"Wherefore the Scripture exclaims in
name of the God of the Jews, saying, 'Behold, behold, seeing that I am God, and there is none else besides me, I will kill, and I will make alive; I will smite, and I will heal; and there is none who can
deliver out of my hands.' See therefore how, by some ineffable virtue, the Scripture, opposing the future errors of those
who should affirm that either in heaven or on earth there is any other god besides Him who is the God of the Jews, decides
thus: 'The Lord your God is one God, in heaven above, and in the earth beneath; and besides Him there is none else.' How,
then, hast thou dared to say that there is any other God besides Him who is the God of the Jews? And again the Scripture says,
'Behold, to the Lord thy God belong the heaven, and the heaven of heavens, the earth, and all things that are in them: nevertheless
I have chosen your fathers, that I might love them, and you after them.' Thus that judgment is supported by the Scripture
on every side, that He who created the world is the true and only God.
CHAP. XLIV.--THE SERPENT, THE AUTHOR OF
"But even if there be others, as we have
said, who are called gods, they are under the power of the God of the Jews; for thus saith the Scripture to the Jews, 'The
Lord our God, He is God of gods, and Lord of lords.' Him alone the Scripture also commands to be worshipped, saying, 'Thou
shall worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shall thou serve;' and, 'Hear, O Israel: the
Lord thy God is one God.' Yea, also the saints, filled with the Spirit of God, and bedewed with
the drops of His mercy, cried out, saying, 'Who is like unto Thee among the gods? O Lord, who is like unto Thee?' And again,
'Who is God, but the Lord; and who is God, but our Lord?' Therefore Moses, when he saw that the people were advancing,
by degrees initiated them in the understanding of the monarchy and the faith of one God, as he says in the following words:
'Thou shalt not make negation of the names of other gods;' doubtless remembering with what penalty the serpent was visited,
which had first named gods. For it is condemned to feed upon dust, and is judged worthy of such food, for this cause.
that it first of all introduced the name of gods into the world. But if you also wish to introduce many gods, see that you
partake not the serpent's doom.
CHAP. XLV.--POLYTHEISM INEXCUSABLE.
"For be sure of this. that you shall
not have us participators in this attempt; nor will we suffer ourselves to be deceived by you. For it will not serve us for
an excuse in the judgment, if we say that you deceived us; because neither could it excuse the first woman, that she had unhappily
believed the serpent; but she was condemned to death, because she believed badly. For this cause therefore, Moses, also commending
the faith of one God to the people, says, 'Take heed to thyself, that thou be not seduced from the Lord thy God.' Observe
that he makes use of the same word which the first woman also made use of in excusing herself, saying that she was seduced;
but it profited her nothing. But over and above all this, even if some true prophet should arise, who should perform signs
and miracles, but should wish to persuade us to worship other gods besides the God of the Jews, we should never be able to
believe him. For so the divine law has taught us, handing down a secret injunction more purely by means of tradition, for
thus it saith: 'If there arise among you a prophet, or one dreaming a dream, and give you signs or wonders, and these signs
or wonders come to pass, and he say to you, Let us go and worship strange gods, whom ye know not; ye shall not hear the words
of that prophet, nor the dream of that dreamer, because proving he hath proved you, that he may see if ye love the 'Lord your
CHAP. XLVI.--CHRIST ACKNOWLEDGED THE GOD
OF THE JEWS.
"Wherefore also our Lord, who wrought
signs and wonders, preached the God of the Jews; and therefore we are right in believing what He preached. But as for you,
even if you were really a prophet, and performed signs and wonders, as you promise to do, if you were to announce other gods
besides Him who is the true God, it would be manifest that you were raised up as a trial to the people of God; and therefore
you can by no means be believed. For He alone is the true God, who is the God of the Jews; and for this reason our Lord Jesus
Christ did not teach them that they must inquire after God, for Him they knew well already, but that they must seek His kingdom
and righteousness, which the scribes and Pharisees, having received the key of knowledge, had not shut in, but shut out.
For if they had been ignorant of the true God, surely He would never have left the knowledge of this thing, which was the
chief of all, and blamed them for small and little things, as for enlarging their fringes, and claiming the uppermost rooms
in feasts, and praying standing in the highways, and such like things; which assuredly, in comparison of this great charge,
ignorance of God, seem to be small and insignificant matters."
CHAP. XLVII.--SIMON'S CAVIL.
To this Simon replied: "From
the words of your master I shall refute you, because even he introduces to all men a certain God who was known. For although
both Adam knew the God who was his creator, and the maker of the world; and Enoch knew him, inasmuch as he was translated
by him; and Noah, since he was ordered by him to construct the ark; and although Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Moses,
and all, even every people and all nations, know the maker of the world, and confess him to be a God, yet your Jesus, who
appeared long after the patriarchs, says: 'No one knows the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any one the Father, but the
Son, and he to whom the Son has been pleased to reveal Him.' Thus, therefore, even your Jesus confesses that there is another
God, incomprehensible and unknown to all.
CHAP. XLVIII.--PETER'S ANSWER.
Then Peter says: "You do not perceive
that you are making statements in opposition to
yourself. For if our Jesus also knows Him whom ye call the unknown God. then He is not known by
you alone. Yea, if our Jesus knows Him, then Moses also, who prophesied that Jesus should come, assuredly could not himself
be ignorant of Him. For he was a prophet; and he who prophesied of the Son doubtless knew the Father. For if it is in the
option of the Son to reveal the Father to whom He will, then the Son, who has been with the Father from the beginning, and
through all generations, as He revealed the Father to Moses, so also to the other prophets; but if this be so, it is evident
that the Father has not been unknown to any of them. But how could the Father be revealed to you, who do not believe in the
Son, since the Father is known to none except him to whom the Son is pleased to reveal Him? But the Son reveals the Father
to those who honour the Son as they honour the Father."
CHAP. XLIX.--THE SUPREME LIGHT.
Then Simon said: "Remember that you said
that God has a son, which is doing Him wrong; for how can He have a son, unless He is subject to passions, like men or animals?
But on these points there is not time now to show your profound folly, for I hasten to make a statement concerning the immensity
of the supreme light; and so now listen. My opinion is, that there is a certain power of immense and ineffable light, whose
greatness may be held to be incomprehensible, of which power even the maker of the world is ignorant, and Moses the lawgiver,
and Jesus your master."
CHAP. L.--SIMON'S PRESUMPTION.
Then Peter: "Does it not seem to you
to be madness, that any one should take upon himself to assert that there is another God than the God of all; and should say
that he supposes there is a certain power, and should presume to affirm this to others, before he himself is sure of what
he says? Is any one so rash as to believe your words, of which he sees that you are yourself doubtful, and to admit that there
is a certain power unknown to God the Creator, and to Moses, and the prophets, and the law, and even to Jesus our Master,
which power is so good, that it will not make itself known to any but to one only, and that one such an one as thou! Then,
further, if that is a new power, why does it not confer upon us some new sense, in addition to those five which we possess,
that by that new sense. bestowed upon us by it, we may be able to receive and understand itself which is new? Or if it cannot
bestow such a sense upon us, how has it bestowed it upon you? Or if it has revealed itself to you, why not also to us? But
if you of yourself understand things which not even the prophets were able to perceive or understand, come, tell us what each
one of us is thinking now; for if there is such a spirit in you that you know hose things which are above the heavens, which
are unknown to all, and incomprehensible by all, much more easily do you know the thoughts of men upon the earth. But if you
cannot know the thoughts of us who are standing here, how can you say that you know those things which, you assert, are known
CHAP. LI.--THE SIXTH SENSE.
"But believe me, that you could never
know what light is unless you had received both vision and understanding from light itself; so also in other things. Hence,
having received understanding, you arc framing in imagination something greater and more sublime, as if dreaming, but deriving
all your hints from those five senses, to whose Giver you are unthankful. But be sure of this, that until you find some new
sense which is beyond those five which we all enjoy, you cannot assert the existence of a new God." Then Simon answered: "Since
all things that! exist are in accordance with those five senses, that power which is more excellent than all cannot add anything
new." Then Peter said: "It is false; for there is also a sixth sense, namely that of foreknowledge: for those five senses
are capable of knowledge, but the sixth is that of foreknowledge: that this the prophets possessed. How, then, can you know
a God who is unknown. to all, who do not know the prophetic sense, which is that of prescience?" Then Simon began to say:
"This power of which I speak, incomprehensible and more excellent than all, ay, even than that God who made the world, neither
any of the angels has known, nor of the demons, nor of the Jews, nay, nor any creature which subsists by means of God the
creator. How, then, could that creator's law teach me that which the creator himself did not know, since neither did the law
itself know it, that it might teach it?"
CHAP. LII.--REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM.
Then Peter said: "I wonder how you have
been able to learn more from the law than the law was able to know or to teach; and how you say that you adduce proofs from
the law of those things which you are pleased to assert, when you declare that neither the law, nor He who gave the law--that
is, the Creator of the world--knows those things of which you speak! But this also I wonder at, how you, who alone know these
things, should be standing here now with us all, circumscribed by the limits of this small court." Then Simon, seeing Peter
and all the people laughing, said: "Do you laugh, Peter, while so great and lofty matters are under discussion?" Then said
Peter: "Be not enraged, Simon, for we are doing no more than keeping our promise: for we are neither shutting our ears, as
you said, nor did we take to flight as soon as we heard you propound your unutterable things; but we have not even stirred
from the place. For indeed you do not even propound things that have any resemblance to truth, which might to a certain extent
frighten us. Yet, at all events, disclose to us the meaning of this saying, how from the law you have learned of a God whom
the law itself does not know. and of whom He who gave the law is ignorant." Then Simon said: "If you have done laughing, I
shall prove it by clear assertions." Then Peter said: "Assuredly I shall give over, that I may learn from you how you have
learned from the law what neither the law nor the God of the law Himself knows."
CHAP. LIII.--SIMON'S BLASPHEMY.
Then says Simon: "Listen: it is manifest
to all, and ascertained in a manner of which no account can be given, that there is one God, who is better than all, from
whom all that is took its beginning; whence also of necessity, all things that are after him are subject to him, as the chief
and most excellent of all. When, therefore, I had ascertained that the God who created the world, according to what the law
teachers, is in many respects weak, whereas weakness is utterly incompatible with a perfect God, and I saw that he is not
perfect, I necessarily concluded that there is another God who is perfect. For this God, as I have said, according to what
the writing of the law teaches, is shown to be weak in many things. In the first place, because the man whom he formed was
not able to remain such as be had intended him to be; and because he cannot be good who gave a law to the first man, that
he should eat of all the trees of paradise, but that he should not touch the tree of knowledge; and if be should eat of it,
be should die. For why should he forbid him to eat, and to know what is good and what evil, that, knowing, he might shun the
evil and choose the good? But this he did not permit; and because he did eat in violation of the commandment, and discovered
what is good, and learned for the sake of honour to cover his nakedness (for he perceived it to be unseemly to stand naked
before his Creator), he condemns to death him who had learned to do honour to God, and curses the serpent who had shown him
these things. But truly, if man was to be injured by this means, why did he place the cause of injury in paradise at all?
But if that which he placed in paradise was good, it is not the part of one that is good to restrain another from good.
CHAP. LIV.--HOW SIMON LEARNED FROM THE LAW WHAT THE LAW DOES NOT TEACH.
"Thus then, since he who made man
and the world is, according to what the law relates, imperfect, we are given to understand, without doubt, that there is another
who is perfect. For it is of necessity that there be one most excellent of all, on whose account also every creature keeps
its rank. Whence also I, knowing that it is every way necessary that there be some one more benignant and more powerful than
that imperfect God who gave the law, understanding what is perfect from comparison of the imperfect, understood even from
the Scripture that God who is not mentioned there. And in this way I was able, O Peter, to learn from the law what the law
did not know. But even if the law had not given indications from which it might be gathered that the God who made the world
is imperfect, it was still possible for me to infer from those evils hich are
done in this world, and are not corrected, either that its creator is powerless, if be cannot correct
what is done amiss; or else, if he does not wish to remove the evils, that he is himself evil; but if he neither can nor will,
that he is neither powerful nor good. And from this it cannot but be concluded that there is another God more excellent and
more powerful than all. If you have aught to say to this, say on."
CHAP. LV.--SIMON'S OBJECTIONS TURNED AGAINST
Peter answered: "O Simon, they are wont to conceive such absurdities against God who do not read the law with the instruction
of masters, but account themselves teachers, and think that they can understand the law, though he has not explained it to
them who has learned of the Master. Nevertheless now, that we also may seem to follow the book of the law according to
your apprehension of it; inasmuch as you say that the creator of the world is shown to be both impotent and evil, how is it
that you do not see that that power of yours, which you say is superior to all, fails and lies under the very same charges?
For the very same thing may be said of it, that it is either powerless, since it does not correct those things which here
are done amiss; or if it can and will not, it is evil; or if it neither can nor will, then it is both impotent and imperfect.
Whence that new power of yours is not only found liable to a similar charge, but even to a worse one, if, in addition to all
these things, it is believed to be, when it is not. For He who created the world, His existence is manifest by His very operation
in creating the world, as you yourself also confess. But this power which you say that you alone know, affords no indication
of itself, by which we might perceive, at least, that it is, and subsists.
CHAP. LVI.--NO GOD ABOVE THE CREATOR.
"What kind of conduct, then, would it be that we should forsake God, in whose world we live and enjoy all things necessary
for life, and follow I know not whom, from whom we not only obtain no good, but cannot even know that he exists? Nor truly
does he exist. For whether you call him light, and brighter than that light which we see, you borrow that very name from the
Creator of the world; or whether you say that he is a substance above all, you derive from Him the idea with enlargement of
speech. Whether you make mention of mind, or goodness, or life, or whatever else, you borrow the words from Him. Since,
then, you have nothing new concerning that power you speak of, not only as regards understanding, but even in respect of naming
him, how do you introduce a new God, for whom you cannot even find a new name? For not only is the Creator of the world called
a Power, but even the ministers of His glory, and all the heavenly host. Do you not then think it better that we should follow
our Creator God, as a Father who trains us and endows us as He knows how? But if, as you say, there be some God more benignant
than all, it is certain that he will not be angry with us; or if he be angry, he is evil. For if our God is angry and punishes,
He is not evil, but righteous, for He corrects and amends His own sons. But he who has no concern with us, if he shall punish
us, how should he be good? Inflicting punishments upon us because we have not been drawn by vain imaginations to forsake our
own Father and follow him, how can you assert that he is so good, when he cannot be regarded as even just?"
CHAP. LVII.--SIMON'S INCONSISTENCY.
Then Simon: "Do you so far err, Peter, as not to know that our souls were made by that good God, the most excellent
of all, but they have been brought down as captives into this world?" To this Peter answered: "Then he is not unknown by all,
as you said a little while ago; and yet how did the good God permit his souls to be taken captive, if he be a power over all?"
Then Simon said: "He sent God the creator to make the world; and he, when he had made it, gave out that himself was God."
Then Peter said: "Then be is not, as you said, unknown to Him who made the world; nor are souls ignorant of him, if indeed
they were stolen away from him. To whom, then, can he be unknown, if both the Creator of the world know him, as having been
sent by him; and all souls I know him, as baring been violently withdrawn from him? Then, further, I wish you would tell us
whether he who sent the creator of the world did not know that he would not keep
faith? For if he did not know it, then he was not prescient; while if he foreknew it, and suffered it, he is himself guilty of this deed, since he did not prevent it;
but if he could not, then he is not omnipotent. But if, knowing it as good, he did not prohibit it, he is found to be better,
who presumed to do that which he who sent him did not know to be good."
CHAP. LVIII.--SIMON'S GOD UNJUST.
Then Simon said: "He receives those who will come to him, and does them good." Peter answered: "But there is nothing
new in this; for He whom you acknowledge to be the Creator of the world also does so." Then Simon: "But the good God bestows salvation if he is only acknowledged; but the creator of the world demands also
that the law be fulfilled." Then said Peter: "He saves adulterers and men-slayers, if they know him ; but good, and sober,
and merciful persons, if they do not know him, in consequence of their having no information concerning him, he does not save
! Great and good truly is he whom you proclaim, who is not so much the saviour of the evil, as he is one who shows no mercy
to the good." Then Simon: "It is truly very difficult for man to know him, as long as he is in the flesh; for blacker than
all darkness, and heavier than all clay, is this body with which the soul is surrounded." Then says Peter: "That good God
of yours demands things which are difficult; but He who is truly God seeks easier things. Let him then, since he is so good,
leave us with our Father and Creator; and when once we depart from the body, and leave that darkness that you speak of, we
shall more easily know Him; and then the soul shall better understand that God is its Creator, and shall remain with Him,
and shall no more be harassed with diverse imaginations; nor shall wish to betake itself to another power, which is known
to none but Simon only, and which is of such goodness that no one can come to it, unless he be first guilty of impiety towards
his own father! I know not how this power can be called either good or just, which no one can please except by acting impiously
towards him by whom he was made !"