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Chapter 7.—How Evil Men are of God, and Not of God.

They might have cited against me those words of the gospel:  "Ye therefore do not hear, because ye are not of God;" "Ye are of your father the devil." 199   I also should have cited:  "All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made," 200 and this of the Apostle:  "One God of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ p. 100 through whom are all things," 201 and again from the same Apostle:  "Of whom are all things, through whom are all things, in whom are all things, to Him be glory." 202   I should have exhorted those men (if indeed I had found them men), that we should presume upon nothing as if we had found it out, but should rather inquire of the masters who would demonstrate the agreement and harmony of those passages that seem to be discordant.  For when in one and the same Scriptural authority we read:  "All things are of God," 203 and elsewhere:  "Ye are not of God," since it is wrong rashly to condemn books of Scripture, who would not have seen that a skilled teacher should be found who would know a solution of this problem, from whom assuredly if endowed with good intellectual powers, and a "spiritual man," as is said by divine inspiration 204 (for he would necessarily have favored the true arguments concerning the intelligible and sensible nature, which, as far as I can, I have conducted and handled, nay he would have disclosed them far better and more convincingly); we should have heard nothing else concerning this problem, except, as might happen, that there is no class of souls but has its existence from God, and that it is yet rightly said to sinners and unbelievers:  "Ye are not of God."  For we also, perchance, Divine aid having been implored, should have been able easily to see, that it is one thing to live and another to sin, and (although life in sin may be called death in comparison with just life, 205 and while in one man it may be found, that he is at the same time alive and a sinner) that so far as he is alive, he is of God, so far as he is a sinner he is not of God.  In which division we use that alternative that suits our sentiment; so that when we wish to insist upon the omnipotence of God as Creator, we may say even to sinners that they are of God.  For we are speaking to those who are contained in some class, we are speaking to those having animal life, we are speaking to rational beings, we are speaking lastly—and this applies especially to the matter in hand—to living beings, all which things are essentially divine functions.  But when our purpose is to convict evil men, we rightly say:  "Ye are not of God."  For we speak to them as averse to truth, unbelieving, criminal, infamous, and, to sum up all in one term—sinners, all of which things are undoubtedly not of God.  Therefore what wonder is it, if Christ says to sinners, convicting them of this very thing that they were sinners and did not believe in Him:  "Ye are not of God;" and on the other hand, without prejudice to the former statement:  "All things were made through Him," and "All things are of God?"  For if not to believe Christ, to repudiate Christ’s advent, not to accept Christ, was a sure mark of souls that are not of God; and so it was said:  "Ye therefore hear not, because ye are not of God;" how would that saying of the apostle be true that occurs in the memorable beginning of the gospel:  "He came unto his own things, and his own people did not receive him?" 206   Whence his own if they did not receive him; or whence therefore not his own because they did not receive him, unless that sinners by virtue of being men belong to God, but by virtue of being sinners belong to the devil?  He who says:  "His own people received him not" had reference to nature; but he who says:  "Ye are not of God." had reference to will; for the evangelist was commending the works of God, Christ was censuring the sins of men.



John viii. 47 and 44.


John i. 3.


1 Cor. viii. 6.


Rom. xi. 36.


1 Cor. xi. 12.


1 Cor. ii. 15.


1 Tim. v. 6.


John i. 11.

Next: Chapter 8