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Chapter XXIII.—Origin of Evil.

Then said Peter:  “I shall speak, not as under compulsion from you, but at the request of the hearers.  The power of choice is the sense of the soul, possessing a quality by which it can be inclined towards what acts it wills.”  Then Simon, applauding Peter for what he had spoken, said:  “Truly you have expounded it magnificently and incomparably, for it is my duty to bear testimony to your speaking well.  Now if you will explain to me this which I now ask you, in all things else I shall submit to you.  What I wish to learn, then, is this:  if what God wishes to be, is; and what He does not wish to be, is not.  Answer me this.”  Then Peter:  “If you do not know that you are asking an absurd and incompetent question, I shall pardon you and explain; but if you are aware that you are asking inconsequently, you do not well.”  Then Simon said:  “I swear by the Supreme Divinity, whatsoever that may be, which judges and punishes those who sin, that I know not what I have said inconsequently, or what absurdity there is in my words, that is, in those that I have just uttered.”

Next: Chapter XXIV