ORIGEN HAD TRAVELLED MUCH THROUGHOUT THE THEN CHRISTIAN WORLD AND KNEW FIRST HAND OF THE UNIVERSAL FAITH HELD BY THE CHURCHES OF THAT TIME. SO WHAT HE WROTE REPRESENTED THE COMMON FAITH AND SENTIMENTS OF ALL FROM HIS PERSONAL EXPERIENCE AND UNDERSTANDING OF THE SCRIPTURES. THERE WERE NO WRITINGS BY OTHER CHRISTIANS AGAINST THE BELOW QUOTES FROM HIS BOOKS OR LATER THAT I AM AWARE WHICH SERVES TO STRENGTHEN THE CASE THAT THE BELOW QUOTES DID REPRESENT THE UNIVERSAL FAITH AND CHURCH OF THE 3RD CENTURY:
Now the existence of many kingdoms would have been a hindrance to the spread of the doctrine of Jesus throughout the entire world; not only for the reasons mentioned, but also on account of the necessity of men everywhere engaging in war, and fighting on behalf of their native country, which was the case before the times of Augustus, and in periods still more remote, when necessity arose, as when the Peloponnesians and Athenians warred against each other, and other nations in like manner. How, then, was it possible for the Gospel doctrine of peace, which does not permit men to take vengeance even upon enemies, to prevail throughout the world, unless at the advent of Jesus a milder spirit had been everywhere introduced into the conduct of things? (Chapter 30, Origen against Celsus)
In like manner, as the statement is false “that the Hebrews, being (originally) Egyptians, dated the commencement (of their political existence) from the time of their rebellion,” so also is this, “that in the days of Jesus others who were Jews rebelled against the Jewish state, and became His followers;” for neither Celsus nor they who think with him are able to point out any act on the part of Christians which savours of rebellion. And yet, if a revolt had led to the formation of the Christian commonwealth, so that it derived its existence in this way from that of the Jews, who were permitted to take up arms in defence of the members of their families, and to slay their enemies, the Christian Lawgiver would not have altogether forbidden the putting of men to death; and yet He nowhere teaches that it is right for His own disciples to offer violence to any one, however wicked. For He did not deem it in keeping with such laws as His, which were derived from a divine source, to allow the killing of any individual whatever. Nor would the Christians, had they owed their origin to a rebellion, have adopted laws of so exceedingly mild a character as not to allow them, when it was their fate to be slain as sheep, on any occasion to resist their persecutors. And truly, if we look a little deeper into things, we may say regarding the exodus from Egypt, that it is a miracle if a whole nation at once adopted the language called Hebrew, as if it had been a gift from heaven, when one of their own prophets said, “As they went forth from Egypt, they heard a language which they did not understand” (Book 3 Chapter 7, Origen against Celsus).
In the following way, also, we may conclude that they who came out of Egypt with Moses were not Egyptians; for if they had been Egyptians, their names also would be Egyptian, because in every language the designations (of persons and things) are kindred to the language. But if it is certain, from the names being Hebrew, that the people were not Egyptians,—and the Scriptures are full of Hebrew names, and these bestowed, too, upon their children while they were in Egypt,—it is clear that the Egyptian account is false, which asserts that they were Egyptians, and went forth from Egypt with Moses. Now it is absolutely certain that, being descended, as the Mosaic history records, from Hebrew ancestors, they employed a language from which they also took the names which they conferred upon their children. But with regard to the Christians, because they were taught not to avenge themselves upon their enemies (and have thus observed laws of a mild and philanthropic character); and because they would not, although able, have made war even if they had received authority to do so,—they have obtained this reward from God, that He has always warred in their behalf, and on certain occasions has restrained those who rose up against them and desired to destroy them. For in order to remind others, that by seeing a few engaged in a struggle for their religion, they also might be better fitted to despise death, some, on special occasions, and these individuals who can be easily numbered, have endured death for the sake of Christianity,—God not permitting the whole nation to be exterminated, but desiring that it should continue, and that the whole world should be filled with this salutary and religious doctrine. And again, on the other hand, that those who were of weaker minds might recover their courage and rise superior to the thought of death, God interposed His providence on behalf of believers, dispersing by an act of His will alone all the conspiracies formed against them; so that neither kings, nor rulers, nor the populace, might be able to rage against them beyond a certain point. Such, then, is our answer to the assertions of Celsus, “that a revolt was the original commencement of the ancient Jewish state, and subsequently of Christianity” (Book 3 Chapter 8, Origen against Celsus).
He next, in many words, blames us for asserting that God made all things for the sake of man. Because from the history of animals, and from the sagacity manifested by them, he would show that all things came into existence not more for the sake of man than of the irrational animals. And here he seems to me to speak in a similar manner to those who, through dislike of their enemies, accuse them of the same things for which their own friends are commended. For as, in the instance referred to, hatred blinds these persons from seeing that they are accusing their very dearest friends by the means through which they think they are slandering their enemies; so in the same way, Celsus also, becoming confused in his argument, does not see that he is bringing a charge against the philosophers of the Porch, who, not amiss, place man in the foremost rank, and rational nature in general before irrational animals, and who maintain that Providence created all things mainly on account of rational nature (Origen against Celsus).
If I must now explain how the just man “slays his enemies,” and prevails everywhere, it is to be observed that, when he says, “Every morning will I destroy the wicked of the land, that I may cut off all workers of iniquity from the city of Jehovah,” by “the land” he means the flesh whose lusts are at enmity with God; and by “the city of Jehovah” he designates his own soul, in which was the temple of God, containing the true idea and conception of God, which makes it to be admired by all who look upon it. As soon, then, as the rays of the Sun of righteousness shine into his soul, feeling strengthened and invigorated by their influence, he sets himself to destroy all the lusts of the flesh, which are called “the wicked of the land,” and drives out of that city of the Lord which is in his soul all thoughts which work iniquity, and all suggestions which are opposed to the truth. And in this way also the just give up to destruction all their enemies, which are their vices, so that they do not spare even the children, that is, the early beginnings and promptings of evil. In this sense also we understand the language of the 137th Psalm: “O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us: happy shall he be that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.” For “the little ones” of Babylon (which signifies confusion) are those troublesome sinful thoughts which arise in the soul and he who subdues them by striking, as it were, their heads against the firm and solid strength of reason and truth, is the man who “dasheth the little ones against the stones;” and he is therefore truly blessed. God may therefore have commanded men to destroy all their vices utterly, even at their birth, without having enjoined anything contrary to the teaching of Christ; and He may Himself have destroyed before the eyes of those who were “Jews inwardly” all the offspring of evil as His enemies. And, in like manner, those who disobey the law and word of God may well be compared to His enemies led astray by sin; and they may well be said to suffer the same fate as they deserve who have proved traitors to the truth of God (Book, 7 Chapter 22, Origen against Celsus)
However, if we must refer briefly to the difference between the constitution which was given to the Jews of old by Moses, and that which the Christians, under the direction of Christ’s teaching, wish now to establish, we would observe that it must be impossible for the legislation of Moses, taken literally, to harmonize with the calling of the Gentiles, and with their subjection to the Roman government; and on the other hand, it would be impossible for the Jews to preserve their civil economy unchanged, supposing that they should embrace the Gospel. For Christians could not slay their enemies, or condemn to be burned or stoned, as Moses commands, those who had broken the law, and were therefore condemned as deserving of these punishments; since the Jews themselves, however desirous of carrying out their law, are not able to inflict these punishments. But in the case of the ancient Jews, who had a land and a form of government of their own, to take from them the right of making war upon their enemies, of fighting for their country, of putting to death or otherwise punishing adulterers, murderers, or others who were guilty of similar crimes, would be to subject them to sudden and utter destruction whenever the enemy fell upon them; for their very laws would in that case restrain them, and prevent them from resisting the enemy. And that same providence which of old gave the law, and has now given the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not wishing the Jewish state to continue longer, has destroyed their city and their temple: it has abolished the worship which was offered to God in that temple by the sacrifice of victims, and other ceremonies which He had prescribed. And as it has destroyed these things, not wishing that they should longer continue, in like manner it has extended day by day the Christian religion, so that it is now preached everywhere with boldness, and that in spite of the numerous obstacles which oppose the spread of Christ’s teaching in the world. But since it was the purpose of God that the nations should receive the benefits of Christ’s teaching, all the devices of men against Christians have been brought to nought; for the more that kings, and rulers, and peoples have persecuted them everywhere, the more have they increased in number and grown in strength (Book 7, Chapter 26, Origen against Celsus).
But if all the Romans, according to the supposition of Celsus, embrace the Christian faith, they will, when they pray, overcome their enemies; or rather, they will not war at all, being guarded by that divine power which promised to save five entire cities for the sake of fifty just persons. For men of God are assuredly the salt of the earth: they preserve the order of the world;4969 and society is held together as long as the salt is uncorrupted: for “if the salt have lost its savour, it is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill; but it shall be cast out, and trodden under foot of men. He that hath ears, let him hear” the meaning of these words. When God gives to the tempter permission to persecute us, then we suffer persecution; and when God wishes us to be free from suffering, even in the midst of a world that hates us, we enjoy a wonderful peace, trusting in the protection of Him who said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” And truly He has overcome the world. Wherefore the world prevails only so long as it is the pleasure of Him who received from the Father power to overcome the world; and from His victory we take courage. Should He even wish us again to contend and struggle for our religion, let the enemy come against us, and we will say to them, “I can do all things, through Christ Jesus our Lord, which strengtheneth me.” For of “two sparrows which are sold for a farthing,” as the Scripture says, “not one of them falls on the ground without our Father in heaven.” And so completely does the Divine Providence embrace all things, that not even the hairs of our head fail to be numbered by Him” (Book 8, Chapter 70, Origen against Celsus).
Celsus again, as is usual with him, gets confused, and attributes to us things which none of us have ever written. His words are: “Surely it is intolerable for you to say, that if our present rulers, on embracing your opinions, are taken by the enemy, you will still be able to persuade those who rule after them; and after these have been taken you will persuade their successors and so on, until at length, when all who have yielded to your persuasion have been taken, some prudent ruler shall arise, with a foresight of what is impending, and he will destroy you all utterly before he himself perishes.” There is no need of any answer to these allegations: for none of us says of our present rulers, that if they embrace our opinions, and are taken by the enemy, we shall be able to persuade their successors; and when these are taken, those who come after them, and so on in succession. But on what does he ground the assertion, that when a succession of those who have yielded to our persuasion have been taken because they did not drive back the enemy, some prudent ruler shall arise, with a foresight of what is impending, who shall utterly destroy us? But here he seems to me to delight in inventing and uttering the wildest nonsense” (Book 8, Chapter 71, Origen against Celsus).
In the next place, Celsus urges us “to help the king with all our might, and to labour with him in the maintenance of justice, to fight for him; and if he requires it, to fight under him, or lead an army along with him.” To this our answer is, that we do, when occasion requires, give help to kings, and that, so to say, a divine help, “putting on the whole armour of God.” And this we do in obedience to the injunction of the apostle, “I exhort, therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority;” and the more any one excels in piety, the more effective help does he render to kings, even more than is given by soldiers, who go forth to fight and slay as many of the enemy as they can. And to those enemies of our faith who require us to bear arms for the commonwealth, and to slay men, we can reply: “Do not those who are priests at certain shrines, and those who attend on certain gods, as you account them, keep their hands free from blood, that they may with hands unstained and free from human blood offer the appointed sacrifices to your gods; and even when war is upon you, you never enlist the priests in the army. If that, then, is a laudable custom, how much more so, that while others are engaged in battle, these too should engage as the priests and ministers of God, keeping their hands pure, and wrestling in prayers to God on behalf of those who are fighting in a righteous cause, and for the king who reigns righteously, that whatever is opposed to those who act righteously may be destroyed!” And as we by our prayers vanquish all demons who stir up war, and lead to the violation of oaths, and disturb the peace, we in this way are much more helpful to the kings than those who go into the field to fight for them. And we do take our part in public affairs, when along with righteous prayers we join self-denying exercises and meditations, which teach us to despise pleasures, and not to be led away by them. And none fight better for the king than we do. We do not indeed fight under him, although he require it; but we fight on his behalf, forming a special army—an army of piety—by offering our prayers to God” (Book 8, Chapter 73, Origen against Celsus).
And if Celsus would have us to lead armies in defence of our country, let him know that we do this too, and that not for the purpose of being seen by men, or of vainglory. For “in secret,” and in our own hearts, there are prayers which ascend as from priests in behalf of our fellow-citizens. And Christians are benefactors of their country more than others. For they train up citizens, and inculcate piety to the Supreme Being; and they promote those whose lives in the smallest cities have been good and worthy, to a divine and heavenly city, to whom it may be said, “Thou hast been faithful in the smallest city, come into a great one,” where “God standeth in the assembly of the gods, and judgeth the gods in the midst;” and He reckons thee among them, if thou no more “die as a man, or fall as one of the princes” (Book 8, Chapter 74, Origen against Celsus).
Celsus also urges us to “take office in the government of the country, if that is required for the maintenance of the laws and the support of religion.” But we recognise in each state the existence of another national organization, founded by the Word of God, and we exhort those who are mighty in word and of blameless life to rule over Churches. Those who are ambitious of ruling we reject; but we constrain those who, through excess of modesty, are not easily induced to take a public charge in the Church of God. And those who rule over us well are under the constraining influence of the great King, whom we believe to be the Son of God, God the Word. And if those who govern in the Church, and are called rulers of the divine nation—that is, the Church—rule well, they rule in accordance with the divine commands, and never suffer themselves to be led astray by worldly policy. And it is not for the purpose of escaping public duties that Christians decline public offices, but that they may reserve themselves for a diviner and more necessary service in the Church of God—for the salvation of men. And this service is at once necessary and right. They take charge of all—of those that are within, that they may day by day lead better lives, and of those that are without, that they may come to abound in holy words and in deeds of piety; and that, while thus worshipping God truly, and training up as many as they can in the same way, they may be filled with the word of God and the law of God, and thus be united with the Supreme God through His Son the Word, Wisdom, Truth, and Righteousness, who unites to God all who are resolved to conform their lives in all things to the law of God” (Book 8, Chapter 75, Origen against Celsus).