Chapter XLVIII.—Errors of the Philosophers.
“But some one will say that precepts of this sort are given by the philosophers also. 878 Nothing of the kind: for they do indeed give commandments concerning justice and sobriety, but they are ignorant that God is the recompenser of good and evil deeds; and therefore their laws and precepts only shun a public accuser, but cannot purify the conscience. For why should one fear to sin in secret, who does not know that there is a witness and a judge of secret things? Besides, the philosophers in their precepts add that even the gods, who are demons, are to be honoured; and this alone, even if in other respects they seemed worthy of approbation, is sufficient to convict them of the most dreadful imp. 205 piety, and condemn them by their own sentence, since they declare indeed that there is one God, yet command that many be worshipped, by way of humouring human error. But also the philosophers say that God is not angry, not knowing what they say. For anger is evil, when it disturbs the mind, so that it loses right counsel. But that anger which punishes the wicked does not bring disturbance to the mind; but it is one and the same affection, so to speak, which assigned rewards to the good and punishment to the evil; for if He should bestow blessings upon the good and the evil, and confer equal rewards upon the pious and the impious, He would appear to be unjust rather than good.
[Compare the argument of Clement, as a heathen inquirer, against the philosophers, in Homily VI. 20.—R.]