6.23 If one wished to obtain means for a profounder contemplation of the entrance of souls into divine things, not from the statements of that very insignificant sect from which he quoted, but from books— partly those of the Jews, which are read in their synagogues, and adopted by Christians, and partly from those of Christians alone— let him peruse, at the end of Ezekiel’s prophecies, the visions beheld by the prophet, in which gates of different kinds are enumerated, which obscurely refer to the different modes in which divine souls enter into a better world; and let him peruse also, from the Apocalypse of John, what is related of the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and of its foundations and gates. And if he is capable of finding out also the road, which is indicated by symbols, of those who will march on to divine things, let him read the book of Moses entitled Numbers, and let him seek the help of one who is capable of initiating him into the meaning of the narratives concerning the encampments of the children of Israel; viz., of what sort those were which were arranged towards the east, as was the case with the first; and what those towards the south-west and south; and what towards the sea; and what the last were, which were stationed towards the north. For he will see that there is in the respective places a meaning not to be lightly treated, nor, as Celsus imagines, such as calls only for silly and servile listeners: but he will distinguish in the encampments certain things relating to the numbers that are enumerated, and which are specially adapted to each tribe, of which the present does not appear to us to be the proper time to speak. Let Celsus know, moreover, as well as those who read his book, that in no part of the genuine and divinely accredited Scriptures are
seven heavens mentioned; neither do our prophets, nor the apostles of Jesus, nor the Son of God Himself, repeat anything which they borrowed from the Persians or the Cabiri.
6.27 After the matter of the diagram, he brings forward certain monstrous statements, in the form of question and answer, regarding what is called by ecclesiastical writers the
seal, statements which did not arise from imperfect information; such as that
he who impresses the seal is called father, and he who is sealed is called young man and son; and who answers,
I have been anointed with white ointment from the tree of life,— things which we never heard to have occurred even among the heretics. In the next place, he determines even the number mentioned by those who deliver over the seal, as that
of seven angels, who attach themselves to both sides of the soul of the dying body; the one party being named angels of light, the others ‘archontics;’ and he asserts that the
ruler of those named ‘archontics’ is termed the ‘accursed’ god. Then, laying hold of the expression, he assails, not without reason, those who venture to use such language; and on that account we entertain a similar feeling of indignation with those who censure such individuals, if indeed there exist any who call the God of the Jews— who sends rain and thunder, and who is the Creator of this world, and the God of Moses, and of the cosmogony which he records— an
accursed divinity. Celsus, however, appears to have had in view in employing these expressions, not a rational object, but one of a most irrational kind, arising out of his hatred towards us, which is so unlike a philosopher. For his aim was, that those who are unacquainted with our customs should, on perusing his treatise, at once assail us as if we called the noble Creator of this world an
accursed divinity. He appears to me, indeed, to have acted like those Jews who, when Christianity began to be first preached, scattered abroad false reports of the Gospel, such as that
Christians offered up an infant in sacrifice, and partook of its flesh; and again,
that the professors of Christianity, wishing to do the ‘works of darkness,’ used to extinguish the lights (in their meetings), and each one to have sexual intercourse with any woman whom he chanced to meet. These calumnies have long exercised, although unreasonably, an influence over the minds of very many, leading those who are aliens to the Gospel to believe that Christians are men of such a character; and even at the present day they mislead some, and prevent them from entering even into the simple intercourse of conversation with those who are Christians.
6.64. Celsus, again, brings together a number of statements, which he gives as admissions on our part, but which no intelligent Christian would allow. For not one of us asserts that “God partakes of form or colour.” Nor does He even partake of “motion,” because He stands firm, and His nature is permanent, and He invites the righteous man also to do the same, saying: “But as for thee, stand thou here by Me.” And if certain expressions indicate a kind of motion, as it were, on His part, such as this, “They heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day,” we must understand them in this way, that it is by sinners that God is understood as moving, or as we understand the “sleep” of God, which is taken in a figurative sense, or His “anger,” or any other similar attribute. But “God does not partake even of substance.” For He is partaken of (by others) rather than that Himself partakes of them, and He is partaken of by those who have the Spirit of God. Our Saviour, also, does not partake of righteousness; but being Himself “righteousness,” He is partaken of by the righteous. A discussion about “substance” would be protracted and difficult, and especially if it were a question whether that which is permanent and immaterial be “sub stance” properly so called, so that it would be found that God is beyond” substance,” communicating of His “substance,” by means of office and power, to those to whom He communicates Himself by His Word, as He does to the Word Himself; or even if He is “substance,” yet He is said be in His nature “invisible,” in these words respecting our Saviour, who is said to be “the image of the invisible God,” while from the term “invisible” it is indicated that He is “immaterial.” It is also a question for investigation, whether the “only-begotten” and “first-born of every creature” is to be called “substance of substances,” and “idea of ideas,” and the “principle of all things,” while above all there is His Father and God.
6.71 Celsus accordingly, as not understanding the doctrine relating to the Spirit of God (
for the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned ), weaves together (such a web) as pleases himself, imagining that we, in calling God a Spirit, differ in no respect in this particular from the Stoics among the Greeks, who maintain that
God is a Spirit, diffused through all things, and containing all things within Himself. Now the superintendence and providence of God does extend through all things, but not in the way that spirit does, according to the Stoics. Providence indeed contains all things that are its objects, and comprehends them all, but not as a containing body includes its contents, because they also are
body, but as a divine power does it comprehend what it contains. According to the philosophers of the Porch, indeed, who assert that principles are
corporeal, and who on that account make all things perishable, and who venture even to make the God of all things capable of perishing, the very Word of God, who descends even to the lowest of mankind, would be— did it not appear to them to be too gross an incongruity — nothing else than a
corporeal spirit; whereas, in our opinion—who endeavour to demonstrate that the rational soul is superior to all
corporeal nature, and that it is an invisible substance, and incorporeal,— God the Word, by whom all things were made, who came, in order that all things might be made by the Word, not to men only, but to what are deemed the very lowest of things, under the dominion of nature alone, would be no body. The Stoics, then, may consign all things to destruction by fire; we, however, know of no incorporeal substance that is destructible by fire, nor (do we believe) that the soul of man, or the substance of
angels, or of
thrones, or dominions, or
powers, can be dissolved by fire.