LVIII. (315) And if, indeed, any one assuming the name and appearance of a prophet, {47}{#de 13:1.} appearing to be inspired and possessed by the Holy Spirit, were to seek to lead the people to the worship of those who are accounted gods in the different cities, it would not be fitting for the people to attend to him being deceived by the name of a prophet. For such an one is an impostor and not a prophet, since he has been inventing speeches and oracles full of falsehood, (316) even though a brother, or a son, or a daughter, or a wife, or a steward, or a firm friend, or any one else who seems to be well-intentioned towards one should seek to lead one in a similar course; exhorting one to be cheerful among the multitude, and to approach the same temples and to adopt the same sacrifices; but such an one should be punished as a public and common enemy, and we should think but little of any relationship, and one should relate his recommendations to all the lovers of piety, who with all speed and without any delay would hasten to inflict punishment on the impious man, judging it a virtuous action to be zealous for his execution. (317) For we should acknowledge only one relationship, and one bond of friendship, namely, a mutual zeal for the service of God, and a desire to say and do everything that is consistent with piety. And these bonds which are called relationships of blood, being derived from one’s ancestors, and those connections which are derived from intermarriages and from other similar causes, must all be renounced, if they do not all hasten to the same end, namely, the honour of God which is the one indissoluble bond of all united good will. For such men will lay claim to a more venerable and sacred kind of relationship; (318) and the law confirms my assertion, where it says that those who do what is pleasing to nature and virtuous are the sons of God, for it says, “Ye are the sons of the Lord your God,”{48}{#de 14:1.} inasmuch as you will be thought worthy of his providence and care in your behalf as though he were your father. And that care is as much superior to that which is shown by a man’s own parents, as I imagine the being who takes it is superior to them.

LIX. (319) In addition to this the lawgiver also entirely removes out of his sacred code of laws all ordinances respecting initiations, and mysteries, and all such trickery and buffoonery; not choosing that men who are brought up in such a constitution as that which he was giving should be busied about such matters, and, placing their dependence on mystic enchantments, should be led to neglect the truth, and to pursue those objects which have very naturally received night and darkness for their portion, passing over the things which are worthy of light and of day. Let no one, therefore, of the disciples or followers of Moses either be initiated himself into any mysterious rites of worship, or initiate any one else; for both the act of learning and that of teaching such initiations is an impiety of no slight order. (320) For if these things are virtuous, and honourable, and profitable, why do ye, O ye men who are initiated, shut yourselves up in dense darkness, and limit your benefits to just three or four men, when you might bring down the advantages which you have to bestow into the middle of the market place, and benefit all men; so that every one might without hindrance partake of a better and more fortunate life? (321) for envy is never found in conjunction with virtue. Let men who do injurious things be put to shame, and seeking hiding places and recesses in the earth, and deep darkness, hide themselves, concealing their lawless iniquity from sight, so that no one may behold it. But to those who do such things as are for the common advantage, let there be freedom of speech, and let them go by day through the middle of the market place where they will meet with the most numerous crowds, to display their own manner of life in the pure sun, and to do good to the assembled multitudes by means of the principal of the outward senses, giving them to see those things the sight of which is most delightful and most impressive, and hearing and feasting upon salutary speeches which are accustomed to delight the minds even of those men who are not utterly illiterate. (322) Do you not see that nature has concealed none of those works which are deservedly celebrated and honourable, but has exhibited openly the stars and the whole of heaven, so as to cause the sight pleasure, and to excite a desire for philosophy, and she also displays her seas, and fountains, and rivers, and the excellencies of the atmosphere, and the beautiful adaptation of the winds to the various seasons of the year, and of plants, and of animals, and, moreover, the innumerable species of fruits, for the use and enjoyment of men? (323) Would it not have been right, then, for you, following her example and design, to give to those who are worthy of it all things that are necessary for their advantage? But now it very often happens that no good men at all are initiated by them, but that sometimes robbers, and wreckers, and companies of debauched and polluted women are, when they have given money enough to those who initiate them, and who reveal to them the mysteries which they call sacred. But let all such men be driven away and expelled from that city, and denied all share in that constitution, in which honour and truth are reverenced for their own sake. And this is enough to say on this subject.