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The Discourses of Epictetus, tr. by P.E Matheson, [1916], at



When one asked him how a man may be convinced that every one of his acts is seen by God, Do you not think, he said, that all things are united together?

'I do', he said.

Again, do you think that things on earth feel the influence of things in heaven?

'I do', he said.

Whence comes it that in such perfect order as at God's command, when He bids the plants to flower, they flower, when He bids them grow, they grow, when He bids them to bear fruit, they bear, when to ripen, they ripen; when again He bids them drop their fruit, they drop it, and when to let fall their leaves, they let them fall, and when He bids them gather themselves up and be still and take their rest, they are still and take their rest? Whence is it that as the moon waxes and wanes and as the sun draws near and departs afar we behold so great a change and transformation of things on the earth? If the plants then and our own bodies are so closely bound up with the universe, and so share its affections, is it not much more so with our minds? And if our minds are so bound up with God and in such close touch with Him as being part and portion of His very being, does not God perceive their every movement as closely akin to Him?

Consider this: you, a man, have power to reflect on the divine governance and on each divine operation as well as upon things human, you have the faculty of being moved in your senses and your intelligence by countless objects, sometimes assenting, sometimes rejecting, sometimes doubting; you guard in your own mind these many impressions derived from so many and various objects, and moved by them you conceive thoughts corresponding to those objects which have first

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impressed you, and so from countless objects you derive and maintain one after another the products of art and memory.

All this you do, and is God not able to behold all things and be present with all and to have some communication with all? Why, the sun is able to illuminate so large a part of the universe, and to leave unilluminated only so much as the shadow which the earth makes can cover: and cannot He who has created the sun itself, and who makes it to revolve—a small part of Himself as compared with the whole—has not He, I say, the power to perceive all things?

'But', says one, 'I cannot comprehend all these things at once.'

Of course no one tells you that in faculty you are equal to Zeus. 1-10 Nevertheless He has set by each man his genius 1-11 to guard him, and committed each man to his genius to watch over, ay and a genius which sleeps not and is not to be beguiled. To what other guardian, better or more attentive, could He have committed each one of us? Therefore, when you close your doors and make darkness within, remember never to say that you are alone: you are not alone, God is within, and your genius. What need have they of light to see what you are doing? To this God you ought to swear allegiance from the first as the soldiers swear to Caesar. They are paid servants, yet they swear that they will put the safety of Caesar above all things: and shall you not swear too, who have been counted worthy of so many and so great blessings, or having sworn shall you not keep your oath? And what shall your oath be? Never to disobey, never to accuse, never to find fault with any of God's gifts, never to let your will rebel, when you have to do or to bear what necessity demands. Can the soldier's oath be compared with ours? The soldiers swear to respect no man above Caesar, but we to respect ourselves first of all.

Next: Chapter XV. What Philosophy Professes