Chapter XXXII.—A Statement in Vindication of the Doctrine of the Apostles as Opposed to Idolatry, in the Words of the Prophecies.
49. What, then, do these men, who are at once the perverse applauders of Christ and the slanderers of Christians, say to these facts? Can it be that Christ, by the use of magical arts, caused those predictions to be uttered so long ago by the prophets? or have His disciples invented them? Is it thus that the Church, in her extension among the Gentile nations, though once barren, has been made to rejoice now in the possession of more children than that synagogue had which, in its Law or its King, had received, as it were, a husband? or is it thus that this Church has been led to enlarge the place of her tent, and to occupy all nations and tongues, so that now she lengthens her cords beyond the limits to which the rights of the empire of Rome extend, yea, even on to the territories of the Persians and the Indians and other barbarous nations? or that, on the right hand by means of true Christians, and on the left hand by means of pretended Christians, His name is being made known among such a multitude of peoples? or that His seed is made to inherit the Gentiles, so as now to inhabit cities which had been left desolate of the true worship of God and the true religion? or that His Church has been so little daunted by the threats and furies of men, even at times when she has been covered with the blood of martyrs, like one clad in purple array, that she has prevailed over persecutors at once so numerous, so violent, and so powerful? or that she has not been confounded, like one put to shame, when it was a great crime to be or to become a Christian? or that she is made to forget her confusion for ever, because, where sin had abounded, grace did much more abound? 646 or that she is taught not to remember the shame of her widowhood, because only for a little was she forsaken and subjected to opprobrium, while now she shines forth once more with such eminent glory? or, in fine, is it only a fiction concocted by Christs disciples, that the Lord who made her, and brought her forth from the denomination of the devil and the demons, the very God of Israel is now called the God of the whole earth; all which, nevertheless, the prophets, whose books are now in the hands of the enemies of Christ, foretold so long before Christ became the Son of man?
50. From this, therefore, let them understand that the matter is not left obscure or doubtful even to the slowest and dullest minds: from this, I say, let these perverse applauders of Christ and execrators of the Christian religion understand that the disciples of Christ have learned and taught, in opposition to their gods, precisely what the doctrine of Christ contains. For the God of Israel is found to have enjoined in the books of the prophets that all these objects which those men are minded to worship should be held in abomination and be destroyed, while He Himself is now named the God of the whole earth, through the instrumentality of Christ and the Church of Christ, exactly as He promised so long time ago. For if, indeed, in their marvellous folly, they fancy that Christ worshipped their gods, and that it was only through them that He had power to do things so great as these, we may well ask whether the God of Israel also worshipped their gods, who has now fulfilled by Christ what He promised with respect to the extension of His own worship through all the nations, and with respect to the detestation and subversion of those other deities? 647 Where are their gods? Where are the vaticinations of their fanatics, and the divinations of their prophets? 648 Where are the auguries, or the auspices, or the soothsayings, 649 or the oracles of demons? Why is it that, out of the ancient books which constitute the records of this type of religion, nothing in the form p. 99 either of admonition or of prediction is advanced to oppose the Christian faith, or to controvert the truth of those prophets of ours, who have now come to be so well understood among all nations? “We have offended our gods,” they say in reply, “and they have deserted us for that reason: that explains it also why the Christians have prevailed against us, and why the bliss of human life, exhausted 650 and impaired, goes to wreck among us.” We challenge them, however, to take the books of their own seers, and read out to us any statement purporting that the kind of issue which has come upon them would be brought on them by the Christians: nay, we challenge them to recite any passages in which, if not Christ (for they wish to make Him out to have been a worshipper of their own gods), at least this God of Israel, who is allowed to be the subverter of other deities, is held up as a deity destined to be rejected and worthy of detestation. But never will they produce any such passage, unless, perchance, it be some fabrication of their own. And if ever they do cite any such statement, the fact that it is but a fiction of their own will betray itself in the unnoticeable manner in which a matter of so grave importance is found adduced; whereas, in good truth, before what has been predicted should have come to pass, it behoved to have been proclaimed in the temples of the gods of all nations, with a view to the timeous preparation and warning of all who are now minded 651 to be Christians.
Rom. v. 20.98:647
Deut. vii. 5.98:648
Reading defessa; others give depressa, crushed.99:651
Others read nolunt, who refuse.