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Chapter XLII.—“Full of All Subtlety and All Mischief.”

But Peter, when he heard him speak thus, grinding his teeth, and rubbing his forehead with his hand, and sighing with profound grief, said: 696   “Armed with the cunning of the old serpent, you stand forth to deceive souls; and therefore, as the serpent is more subtile than any other beast, you profess that you are a teacher from the beginning.  And again, like the serpent you wished to introduce many gods; but now, being confuted in that, you assert that there is no God at all.  For by occasion of I know not what unknown God, you denied that the Creator of the world is God, but asserted that He is either an evil being, or that He has many equals, or, as we have said, that He is not God at all.  And when you had been overcome in this position, you now assert that the soul is mortal, so that men may not live righteously and uprightly in hope of things to come.  For if there be no hope for the future, why should not mercy be given up, and men indulge in luxury and pleasures, from which it is manifest that all unrighteousness springs?  And while you introduce so impious a doctrine into the miserable life of men, you call yourself pious, and me impious, because, under the hope of future good things, I will not suffer men to take up arms and fight against one another, plunder and subvert everything, and attempt whatsoever lust may dictate.  And what will be the condition of that life which you would introduce, that men will attack and be attacked, be enraged and disturbed, and live always in fear?  For those who do evil to others must expect like evil to themselves.  Do you see that you are a leader of disturbance and not of peace, of iniquity and not of equity?  But I feigned anger, not because I could not prove that the soul is immortal, but because I pity the souls which you are endeavouring to deceive.  I shall speak, therefore, but not as compelled by you; for I know how I should speak; and you will be the only one who wants not so much persuasion as admonition on this subject.  But those who are really ignorant of this, I shall instruct as is suitable.”



[The concluding portion of this discussion (chaps. 42–48) is peculiar alike in its argument and its colloquies.—R.]

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