Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume VII/Lactantius/A Treatise on the Anger of God Addressed to Donatus/Chap. XXII
Chap. XXII.—Of Sins, and the Verses of the Sibyls Respecting Them Recited.
This is what I had to say, most beloved Donatus, respecting the anger of God, that you might know how to refute those who represent God as being without emotions. It only remains that, after the practice of Cicero, I should use an epilogue by way of peroration. As he did in the Tusculan Disputations, when discoursing on the subject of death, so we in this work ought to bring forward divine testimonies, which may be believed, to refute the persuasion of those who, believing that God is without anger, destroy all religion, without which, as we have shown, we are either equal to the brutes in savageness, or to the cattle in foolishness; for it is in religion only—that is, in the knowledge of the Supreme God—that wisdom consists. All the prophets, being filled with the Divine Spirit, speak nothing else than of the favour of God towards the righteous, and His anger against the ungodly. And their testimony is indeed sufficient for us; but because it is not believed by those who make a display of wisdom by their hair and dress, it was necessary to refute them by reason and arguments. For they act so preposterously, that human things give authority to divine things, whereas divine things ought rather to give authority to human. But let us now leave these things, lest we should produce no effect upon them, and the subject should be indefinitely drawn out. Let us therefore seek those testimonies which they can either believe, or at any rate not oppose.
Authors of great number and weight have made mention of the Sibyls; of the Greeks, Aristo the Chian, and Apollodorus the Erythræan; of our writers, Varro and Fenestella. All these relate that the Erythræan Sibyl was distinguished and noble beyond the rest. Apollodorus, indeed, boasts of her as his own citizen and countrywoman. But Fenestella also relates that ambassadors were sent by the senate to Erythræ, that the verses of this Sibyl might be conveyed to Rome, and that the consuls Curio and Octavius might take care that they should be placed in the Capitol, which had then been restored under the care of Quintus Catulus. In her writings, verses of this kind are found respecting the Supreme God and Maker of the world:—
“The incorruptible and eternal Maker who dwells in the heaven, holding forth good to the good, a much greater reward, but stirring up anger and rage against the evil and unjust.”
Again, in another place, enumerating the deeds by which God is especially moved to anger, she introduced these things:—
“Avoid unlawful services, and serve the living God. Abstain from adultery and impurity; bring up a pure generation of children; do not kill: for the Immortal will be angry with every one who may sin.”
Therefore He is angry with sinners.
- [Book i. concluding chapters.]
- The philosophers wore long hair and cloaks. See Instit., iii. 25. [Needlessly repeated. See p. 95, supra; also 137.]
- Præpostere, i.e., in a reversed order, putting the last first.