Manes Said: Let it First be Allowed on Your Side that There is an Alien...
Manes said: Let it first be allowed on your side that there is an alien root of wickedness, which God has not planted, and then I shall tell you its fruits. Archelaus said: Truth's reckoning does not make any such requirement; and I shall not admit to you that there is a root of any such evil tree, of the fruit whereof no one has ever tasted. But just as, when a man desires to make any purchase, he does not produce the money unless he first ascertains by tasting the object whether it is of a dry or a moist species, so I shall not admit to you that the tree is evil and utterly corrupt, unless the quality of its fruit is first exhibited; for it is written, that "the tree is known by its fruits." [1598] Tell us, therefore, O Manes, what fruit is yielded by that tree which is called evil, or of what nature it is, and what virtue it is, that we may also believe with you that the root of that same tree is of that character which you ascribe to it. Manes said: The root indeed is evil, and the tree is most corrupt, but the increase is not from God. Moreover, fornications, adulteries, murders, avarice, and all evil deeds, are the fruits of that evil root. Archelaus said: That we may credit you when you say that these are the fruits of that evil root, give us a taste of these things; for you have pronounced the substance of this tree to be ungenerate, [1599] the fruits of which are produced after its own likeness. Manes said: The very unrighteousness which subsists in men offers the proof itself, and in avarice too you may taste that evil root. Archelaus said: Well, then, as you have stated the question, those iniquities which prevail among men are fruits of this tree. Manes said: Quite so. Archelaus proceeded: If these, then, are the fruits, that is to say, the wicked deeds of men, it will follow that the men themselves will hold the place of the root and of the tree; for you have declared that they produce fruits of this nature. Manes said: That is my statement. Archelaus answered: Not well say you, That is my statement: for surely that cannot be your statement; otherwise, when men cease from sinning, this tree of wickedness will appear to be unfruitful. Manes said: What you say is an impossibility; for even though one or another, or several, were to cease sinning, there would yet be others doing evil still. Archelaus said: If it is at all possible for one or another, or several, as you admit, not to sin, it is also possible for all to do the same; for they are all of one parent, and are all men of one lump. And, not to follow at my ease those affirmations which you have so confusedly made through all their absurdities, I shall conclude their refutation by certain unmistakeable counter-arguments. Do you allege that the fruits of the evil root and the evil tree are the deeds of men, that is to say, fornications, adulteries, perjuries, murders, and other similar things? Manes said: I do. Archelaus said: Well, then, if it happened that the race of men was to die off the face of the earth, so that they should not be able to sin any more, the substance of that tree would then perish, and it would bear fruit no more. Manes said: And when will that take place of which you speak? Archelaus said: What [1600] is in the future I know not, for I am but a man; nevertheless I shall not leave these words of yours unexamined. What say you of the race of men? Is it unbegotten, or is it a production? Manes said: It is a production. Archelaus said: If man is a production, who is the parent of adultery and fornication, and such other things? Whose fruit is this? Before man was made, who was there to be a fornicator, or an adulterer, or a murderer? Manes said: But if the man is fashioned of the evil nature, it is manifest that he is such a fruit, [1601] albeit he may sin, albeit he may not sin; whence also the name and race of men are once for all and absolutely of this character, whether they may do what is righteous or what is unrighteous. Archelaus said: Well, we may also take notice of that matter. If, as you aver, the wicked one himself made man, why is it that he practises his malignity on him?

[1598] Matthew 7:16.

[1599] Ingenitam.

[1600] The text gives "quoniam quod futurum est nescio, homo enim sum, non tamen," etc. Routh suggests "quonam? quod futurum," etc. = What has that to do with the matter? The future I know not, etc.

[1601] The text is, "sed homo a mala natura plasmatus manifestum est quia ipse sit fructus," etc.

16 the judges said convertibility
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