A Plea For the Christians

 Chapter I.—Injustice Shown Towards the Christians.

 Chapter II.—Claim to Be Treated as Others are When Accused.

 Chapter III.—Charges Brought Against the Christians.

 Chapter IV.—The Christians are Not Atheists, But Acknowledge One Only God.

 Chapter V.—Testimony of the Poets to the Unity of God.

 Chapter VI.—Opinions of the Philosophers as to the One God.

 Chapter VII.—Superiority of the Christian Doctrine Respecting God.

 Chapter VIII.—Absurdities of Polytheism.

 Chapter IX.—The Testimony of the Prophets.

 Chapter X.—The Christians Worship the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

 Chapter XI.—The Moral Teaching of the Christians Repels the Charge Brought Against Them.

 Chapter XII.—Consequent Absurdity of the Charge of Atheism.

 Chapter XIII.—Why the Christians Do Not Offer Sacrifices.

 Chapter XIV.—Inconsistency of Those Who Accuse the Christians.

 Chapter XV.—The Christians Distinguish God from Matter.

 Chapter XVI.—The Christians Do Not Worship the Universe.

 Chapter XVII.—The Names of the Gods and Their Images are But of Recent Date.

 Chapter XVIII.—The Gods Themselves Have Been Created, as the Poets Confess.

 Chapter XIX.—The Philosophers Agree with the Poets Respecting the Gods.

 Chapter XX.—Absurd Representations of the Gods.

 Chapter XXI.—Impure Loves Ascribed to the Gods.

 Chapter XXII.—Pretended Symbolical Explanations.

 Chapter XXIII.—Opinions of Thales and Plato.

 Chapter XXIV.—Concerning the Angels and Giants.

 Chapter XXV.—The Poets and Philosophers Have Denied a Divine Providence.

 Chapter XXVI.—The Demons Allure Men to the Worship of Images.

 Chapter XXVII.—Artifices of the Demons.

 Chapter XXVIII.—The Heathen Gods Were Simply Men.

 Chapter XXIX.—Proof of the Same from the Poets.

 Chapter XXX.—Reasons Why Divinity Has Been Ascribed to Men.

 Chapter XXXI.—Confutation of the Other Charges Brought Against the Christians.

 Chapter XXXII.—Elevated Morality of the Christians.

 Chapter XXXIII.—Chastity of the Christians with Respect to Marriage.

 Chapter XXXIV.—The Vast Difference in Morals Between the Christians and Their Accusers.

 Chapter XXXV.—The Christians Condemn and Detest All Cruelty.

 Chapter XXXVI.—Bearing of the Doctrine of the Resurrection on the Practices of the Christians.

 Chapter XXXVII.—Entreaty to Be Fairly Judged.

Chapter V.—Testimony of the Poets to the Unity of God.12    [De Maistre, who talks nothing but sophistry when he rides his hobby, and who shocked the pope himself by his fanatical effort to demonstrate the papal system, is, nevertheless, very suggestive and interesting when he condescends to talk simply as a Christian. See his citations showing the heathen consciousness of one Supreme Being. Soirées de St. Pétersbourg, vol. i. pp. 225, 280; vol. ii. pp. 379, 380.]

Poets and philosophers have not been voted atheists for inquiring concerning God. Euripides, speaking of those who, according to popular preconception, are ignorantly called gods, says doubtingly:—

“If Zeus indeed does reign in heaven above,

He ought not on the righteous ills to send.”13    From an unknown play.

But speaking of Him who is apprehended by the understanding as matter of certain knowledge, he gives his opinion decidedly, and with intelligence, thus:—

“Seest thou on high him who, with humid arms,

Clasps both the boundless ether and the earth?

Him reckon Zeus, and him regard as God.”14    From an unknown play; the original is ambiguous; comp. Cic. De Nat Deorum, ii. c. 25, where the words are translated—“Seest thou this boundless ether on high which embraces the earth in its moist arms? Reckon this Zeus.” Athenagoras cannot so have understood Euripides.

For, as to these so-called gods, he neither saw any real existences, to which a name is usually assigned, underlying them (“Zeus,” for instance: “who Zeus is I know not, but by report”), nor that any names were given to realities which actually do exist (for of what use are names to those who have no real existences underlying them?); but Him he did see by means of His works, considering with an eye to things unseen the things which are manifest in air, in ether, on earth. Him therefore, from whom proceed all created things, and by whose Spirit they are governed, he concluded to be God; and Sophocles agrees with him, when he says:—

“There is one God, in truth there is but one,

Who made the heavens, and the broad earth beneath.”15    Not found in his extant works.

[Euripides is speaking] of the nature of God, which fills His works with beauty, and teaching both where God must be, and that He must be One.

Καὶ ποιηταὶ μὲν καὶ φιλόσοφοι οὐκ ἔδοξαν ἄθεοι, ἐπιστήσαντες περὶ θεοῦ. ὁ μὲν Eὐριπίδης ἐπὶ μὲν τῶν κατὰ κοινὴν πρόληψιν ἀνεπιστημόνως ὀνομαζομένων θεῶν διαπορῶν ὤφειλε δ', εἴπερ ἔστ' ἐν οὐρανῷ, Ζεὺς μὴ τὸν αὐτὸν δυστυχῆ καθιστάναι· ἐπὶ δὲ τοῦ κατ' ἐπιστήμην νοητοῦ ὡς ἔστιν θεὸς δογματίζων ὁρᾷς τὸν ὑψοῦ τόνδ' ἄπειρον αἰθέρα καὶ γῆν πέριξ ἔχοντα ὑγραῖς ἐν ἀγκάλαις; τοῦτον νόμιζε Ζῆνα, τόνδ' ἡγοῦ θεόν. τῶν μὲν γὰρ οὔτε τὰς οὐσίας, αἷς ἐπικατηγορεῖσθαι τὸ ὄνομα συμβέβηκεν, ὑποκειμένας ἑώρα (“Ζῆνα γὰρ ὅστις ἐστὶ Ζεύς, οὐκ οἶδα πλὴν λόγῳ”) οὔτε τὰ ὀνόματα καθ' ὑποκειμένων κατηγορεῖ σθαι πραγμάτων (ὧν γὰρ αἱ οὐσίαι οὐχ ὑπόκεινται, τί πλέον αὐτοῖς τῶν ὀνομάτων;), τὸν δὲ ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων, ὄψιν τῶν ἀδήλων νοῶν τὰ φαινόμενα, ἀέρα αἰθέρος γῆς . οὗ οὖν τὰ ποιήματα καὶ ὑφ' οὗ τῷ πνεύματι ἡνιοχεῖται, τοῦτον κατελαμβάνετο εἶναι θεόν, συν ᾴδοντος τούτῳ καὶ Σοφοκλέους εἷς ταῖς ἀληθείαισιν, εἷς ἐστιν θεός, ὃς οὐρανόν τ' ἔτευξε καὶ γαῖαν μακράν, πρὸς τὴν τοῦ θεοῦ φύσιν τοῦ κάλλους τοῦ ἐκείνου πληρουμένην ἑκάτερα, καὶ ποῦ δεῖ εἶναι τὸν θεὸν καὶ ὅτι ἕνα δεῖ εἶναι, διδάσκων.