Chapter XXII.—Second Suggestion Continued.
“But let us come back to you, whose opinion it is that God should be regarded as Cæsar, and the gods as the ministers and deputies of Cæsar. Follow me attentively, and I shall presently show you the lurking-places of the serpent, which lie in the crooked windings of this argument. It ought to be regarded by all as certain and beyond doubt, that no creature can be on a level with God, because He was made by none, but Himself made all things; nor indeed can any one be found so irrational, as to suppose that the thing made can be compared with the maker. If therefore the human mind, not only by reason, but even by a sort of natural instinct, rightly holds this opinion, that that is called God to which nothing can be compared or equalled, but which exceeds all and excels all; how can it be supposed that that name which is believed to be above all, is rightly given to those whom you think to be employed for the service and comfort of human life? But we shall add this also. This world was undoubtedly made, and is corruptible, as we shall show more fully by and by; meantime it is admitted both that it has been made and that it is corruptible. If therefore the world cannot be called God, and rightly so, because it is corruptible, how shall parts of the world take the name of God? For inasmuch as the whole world cannot be God, much more its parts cannot. Therefore, if we come back to the example of Cæsar, you will see how far you are in error. It is not lawful for any one, though a man of the same nature with him, to be compared with Cæsar: do you think, then, that any one ought to be compared with God, who excels all in this respect, that He was made by none, but Himself made all things? But, indeed, you dare not give the name of Cæsar to any other, because he immediately punishes one who offends against him; you dare give that of God to others, because He delays the punishment of offenders against Him, in order to their repentance.