Chapter XXI.—An Argument for the Exclusive Worship of This God, Who, While He Prohibits Other Deities from Being Worshipped, is Not Himself Interdicted by Other Divinities from Being Worshipped.
29. Seeing, then, that these things are so, why do not these unhappy men rather apprehend the fact that this God is the true God, whom they perceive to be placed in a position so thoroughly separated from the company of their own deities, that, although they are compelled to acknowledge Him to be God, those very persons who profess that all gods ought to be worshipped are nevertheless not permitted to worship Him along with the rest? Now, since these deities and this God cannot be worshipped together, why is not He selected who forbids those others to be worshipped; and why are not p. 89 those deities abandoned, who do not interdict Him from being worshipped? Or if they do indeed forbid His worship, let the interdict be read. For what has greater claims to be recited to their people in their temples, in which the sound of no such thing has ever been heard? And, in good sooth, the prohibition directed by so many against one ought to be more notable 575 and more potent than the prohibition launched by one against so many. For if the worship of this God is impious, then those gods are profitless, who do not interdict men from that impiety; but if the worship of this God is pious, then, as in that worship the commandment is given that these others are not to be worshipped, their worship is impious. If, again, those deities forbid His worship, but only so diffidently that they rather fear to be heard 576 than dare to prohibit, who is so unwise as not to draw his own inference from the fact, who fails to perceive that this God ought to be chosen, who in so public a manner prohibits their worship, who commanded that their images should be destroyed, who foretold that demolition, who Himself effected it, in preference to those deities of whom we know not that they ordained abstinence from His worship, of whom we do not read that they foretold such an event, and in whom we do not see power sufficient to have it brought about? I put the question, let them give the answer: Who is this God, who thus harasses all the gods of the Gentiles, who thus betrays all their sacred rites, who thus renders them extinct?
Reading notior; others give potior = preferable. [The text of Migne reads notior et potentior, but five mss. read notior et potior. The argument favours the former reading, and the latter can readily be accounted for.—R.]89:576
Some read audere timeant = fear to dare. But the mss. give more correctly audiri timeant = fear to be heard; i.e., the demons were afraid that, if they interdicted His worship, the true God might be made known by their own hand.—Migne.