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Evan Roberts Quote : Christian Books : Argument VI.--The Arts by Which Origen Studies to Keep Gregory and His Brother Athenodorus with Him, Although It Was Almost Against Their Will; And the Love by Which Both are Taken Captive. Of Philosophy, the Foundation of Piety, with the View of Giving H

The Oration And Panegyric Addressed To Origen by Gregory Thaumaturgus

Argument VI.--The Arts by Which Origen Studies to Keep Gregory and His Brother Athenodorus with Him, Although It Was Almost Against Their Will; And the Love by Which Both are Taken Captive. Of Philosophy, the Foundation of Piety, with the View of Giving H

And from the very first day of his receiving us (which day was, in truth, the first day to me, and the most precious of all days, if I may so speak, since then for the first time the true Sun began to rise upon me), while we, like some wild creatures of the fields, or like fish, or some sort of birds that had fallen into the toils or nets, and were endeavouring to slip out again and escape, were bent on leaving him, and making off for Berytus or our native country, he studied by all means to associate us closely with him, contriving all kinds of arguments, and putting every rope in motion (as the proverb goes), and bringing all his powers to bear on that object. With that intent he lauded the lovers of philosophy with large laudations and many noble utterances, declaring that those only live a life truly worthy of reasonable creatures who aim at living an upright life and who seek to know first of all themselves, what manner of persons they are, and then the things that are truly good, which man ought to strive after, and then the things that are really evil, from which man ought to flee. And then he reprehended ignorance and all the ignorant: and there are many such, who, like brute cattle, are blind in mind, and have no understanding even of what they are, and are as far astray as though they were wholly void of reason, and neither know themselves what is good and what is evil, nor care at all to learn it from others, but toil feverishly in quest of wealth, and glory, and such honours as belong to the crowd, and bodily comforts, and go distraught about things like these, as if they were the real good. And as though such objects were worth much, yea, worth all else, they prize the things themselves, and the arts by which they can acquire them, and the different lines of life which give scope for their attainment, -- the military profession, to wit, and the juridical, and the study of the laws. And with earnest and sagacious words he told us that these are the objects that enervate us, when we despise that reason which ought to be the true master within us. I cannot recount at present all the addresses of this kind which he delivered to us, with the view of persuading us to take up the pursuit of philosophy. Nor was it only for a single day that he thus dealt with us, but for many days and, in fact, as often as we were in the habit of going to him at the outset; and we were pierced by his argumentation as with an arrow from the very first occasion of our hearing him (for he was possessed of a rare combination of a certain sweet grace and persuasiveness, along with a strange power of constraint), though we still wavered and debated the matter undecidedly with ourselves, holding so far by the pursuit of philosophy, without however being brought thoroughly over to it, while somehow or other we found ourselves quite unable to withdraw from it conclusively, and thus were always drawn towards him by the power of his reasonings, as by the force of some superior necessity. For he asserted further that there could be no genuine piety towards the Lord of all in the man who despised this gift of philosophy, -- a gift which man alone of all the creatures of the earth has been deemed honourable and worthy enough to possess, and one which every man whatsoever, be he wise or be he ignorant, reasonably embraces, who has not utterly lost the power of thought by some mad distraction of mind. He asserted, then, as I have said, that it was not possible (to speak correctly) for any one to be truly pious who did not philosophize. And thus he continued to do with us, until, by pouring in upon us many such argumentations, one after the other, he at last carried us fairly off somehow or other by a kind of divine power, like people with his reasonings, and established us (in the practice of philosophy), and set us down without the power of movement, as it were, beside himself by his arts. Moreover, the stimulus of friendship was also brought to bear upon us, -- a stimulus, indeed, not easily withstood, but keen and most effective, -- the argument of a kind and affectionate disposition, which showed itself benignantly in his words when he spoke to us and associated with us. For he did not aim merely at getting round us by any kind of reasoning; but his desire was, with a benignant, and affectionate, and most benevolent mind, to save us, and make us partakers in the blessings that flow from philosophy, and most especially also in those other gifts which the Deity has bestowed on him above most men, or, as we may perhaps say, above all men of our own time. I mean the power that teaches us piety, the word of salvation, that comes to many, and subdues to itself all whom it visits: for there is nothing that shall resist it, inasmuch as it is and shall be itself the king of all; although as yet it is hidden, and is not recognised, whether with ease or with difficulty, by the common crowd, in such wise that, when interrogated respecting it, they should be able to speak intelligently about it. And thus, like some spark lighting upon our inmost soul, love was kindled and burst into flame within us, -- a love at once to the Holy Word, the most lovely object of all, who attracts all irresistibly toward Himself by His unutterable beauty, and to this man, His friend and advocate. And being most mightily smitten by this love, I was persuaded to give up all those objects or pursuits which seem to us befitting, and among others even my boasted jurisprudence, -- yea, my very fatherland and friends, both those who were present with me then, and those from whom I had parted. And in my estimation there arose but one object dear and worth desire, -- to wit, philosophy, and that master of philosophy, this inspired man. |And the soul of Jonathan was knit with David.| This word, indeed, I did not read till afterwards in the sacred Scriptures; but I felt it before that time, not less clearly than it is written: for, in truth, it reached me then by the clearest of all revelations. For it was not simply Jonathan that was knit with David; but those things were knit together which are the ruling powers in man -- their souls, -- those objects which, even though all the things which are apparent and ostensible in man are severed, cannot by any skill be forced to a severance when they themselves are unwilling. For the soul is free, and cannot be coerced by any means, not even though one should confine it and keep guard over it in some secret prison-house. For wherever the intelligence is, there it is also of its own nature and by the first reason. And if it seems to you to be in a kind of prison-house, it is represented as there to you by a sort of second reason. But for all that, it is by no means precluded from subsisting anywhere according to its own determination; nay, rather it is both able to be, and is reasonably believed to be, there alone and altogether, wheresoever and in connection with what things soever those actions which are proper only to it are in operation. Wherefore, what I experienced has been most clearly declared in this very short statement, that |the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David;| objects which, as I said, cannot by any means be forced to a separation against their will, and which of their own inclination certainly will not readily choose it. Nor is it, in my opinion, in the inferior subject, who is changeful and very prone to vary in purpose, and in whom singly there has been no capacity of union at first, that the power of loosing the sacred bonds of this affection rests, but rather in the nobler one, who is constant and not readily shaken, and through whom it has been possible to tie these bonds and to fasten this sacred knot. Therefore it is not the soul of David that was knit by the divine word with the soul of Jonathan; but, on the contrary, the soul of the latter, who was the inferior, is said to be thus affected and knit with the soul of David. For the nobler object would not choose to be knit with one inferior, inasmuch as it is sufficient for itself; but the inferior object, as standing in need of the help which the nobler can give, ought properly to be knit with the nobler, and fitted dependently to it: so that this latter, retaining still its sufficiency in itself, might sustain no loss by its connection with the inferior; and that that which is of itself without order being now united and fitted harmoniously with the nobler, might, without any detriment done, be perfectly subdued to the nobler by the constraints of such bonds. Wherefore, to apply the bonds is the part of the superior, and not of the inferior; but to be knit to the other is the part of the inferior, and this too in such a manner that it shall possess no power of loosing itself from these bonds. And by a similar constraint, then, did this David of ours once gird us to himself; and he holds us now, and has held us ever since that time, so that, even though we desired it, we could not loose ourselves from his bonds. And hence it follows that, even though we were to depart, he would not release this soul of mine, which, as the Holy Scripture puts it, he holds knit so closely with himself.
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