Early Church Fathers
176 3 Made fast, established.
177 i.e., man.
178 It was necessary to remove ambiguity from the heathen to whom the word death conveys no such meaning. In the sacred writings the departure of the soul from the body is often spoken of as sleep, or rest. Thus Lazarus is said to sleep. 1 Thess. iv. 14, "Them that sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him,"-an expression of great beauty and propriety as applied to Christians. On the other hand, the prophets speak of "the shadow of death."
179 Extinguishes. Compare the words of Christ Himself, John v. 29; Acts xxiv. 15.
180 [Must not be overlooked. See vol. iv. p. 495, and elucidation (after book. iv.) on p. 542.]
181 [Eccles. iii. 18-21. Answered, Eccles. xii. 7.]
182 Portrayed or expressed.
183 It is not to be supposed that Lactantius, following the error of Marcion, believed that the body of man had been formed by the devil, for he has already described its creation by God. He rather speaks of the devil as exercising a power permitted to him over the earth and the bodies of men. Compare 2 Cor. iv. 4.
184 Preface to Catiline.
185 The word teneo is used in this sense by Cicero (De Nat. Deor., 11. 54): "Tribus rebus animantium vita tenetur, cibo, potione, spiritu."
187 Gen. ii.
188 We are not to understand this as asserting that the man lived in idleness, and without any employment in paradise; for this would be inconsistent with the Scripture narrative, which tells us that Adam was placed there to keep the garden and dress it. It is intended to exclude painful and anxious labour, which is the punishment of sin. See Gen. iii. 17.
190 Another reading is, ad dejiciendum hominem, "to overthrow the man."
191 Circumvallavit, "placed a barrier round." See Gen. iii. 24: "He placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubims, and a flaming sword, which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life."
192 [Not novissima, but extrema here. He refers to book vii. cap. 11, etc.]
193 Temporary. The word is opposed to everlasting.
194 No one actually lived a thousand years. They who approached nearest to it were Methuselah, who lived 969 years, Jared 962, and Noah 950.
195 It appears that the practice of the Egyptians varied as to the computation of the year.
196 Philo and Josephus.
197 ["Old Parr," born in Shropshire, A.D. 1483, died in 1635: i.e., born before the discovery of America, he lived to the beginning of Hampden's career in England.]
198 The reading is quod, which in construction refers not to the preceding, but to the following substantive. Qui has been suggested as a preferable reading.
199 Lactantius understands the hundred and twenty years (mentioned Gen. vi. 3) as the limit of human life, and regards it as a mark of severity on God's part. But Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine, and most commentators, regard it rather as a sign of God's patience and long-suffering, in giving them that space for repentance. And this appears to be confirmed by the Apostle Peter, 1 Ep. iii. 20, "When once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing."
201 Gen. ix. 23.
202 This refers to that prophetic denunciation of divine judgment on the impiety of Ham, which Noah, by the suggestion of the Holy Spirit, uttered against the posterity of the profane man. Gen. ix. 25: "Cursed be Canaan." The curse was not uttered in a spirit of vengeance or impatience on account of the injury received, but by the prophetic impulse of the Divine Spirit. [The prophet fixes on the descendant of Ham, whose impiety was foreseen, and to whom it brought a curse so signal.]
203 [Our author falls into a hysteron-proteron: the curse did not work the ignorance, but wilful ignorance and idolatry wrought the curse, which was merely foretold, not fore-ordained.]
207 Substantiae, "essence."
208 See 2 Cor. iv. 4, "the god of this world."
211 dah/monej. Other derivations have been proposed; but the word probably comes from dai/w, "to distribute destinies." Plato approves of the etymology given by Lactantius; for he says that good men, distinguished by great honours, after their death became demons, in accordance with this title of prudence and wisdom. [See the whole subject in Lewis' Plato, etc., p. 347. ]
212 To combine, qualify, or temperate.
214 Blinding tricks, juggleries.
215 They lavish. The word implies a profuse and excessive liberality.
216 Thin, unsubstantial, as opposed to corporeal. The ancients inclined to the opinion that angels had a body, not like that of man, but of a slight and more subtle nature. Probably Lactantius refers to this idea in using the word tenuis. How opposed this view is to Scripture is manifest. [Not so maniifest as our translator supposes. I do not assert what Lactantius says to be scripturally correct: but it certainly is not opposed to many facts as Scripture states them; whether figuratively or otherwise, I do not venture a suggestion.]
217 Augustine gives an account of these deceits, De Civit. Dei, ix. 18.
218 Thus the ancient Romans worshipped Fever, Fear, etc., to avoid injury from them.
220 See Acts of Apostles xvi. 18, and xix. 15, 16. In the Gospels the demons say to Jesus, "Art Thou come to torment us before the time?" [Suggestive of 2 Pet. ii. 4.]
221 The practice of exorcism was used in the early ages of the Church, and the faithful were supposed to possess power over demons. See book iv. ch. 27. Justin, Tertullian and other writers attest the same. There were also exorcists in the Jewish synagogues. See Acts xix. 13.
222 Sed. Other editions read et; but the one adopted in the text brings out the meaning more distinctly by contrast = they did not disgrace religion, but their own honour.
223 By their presence.
224 Malefici-evil doers. The word is specially used of enchanters.
225 Book i. ch. vi.
226 Apparitors. The word is especially applied to public servants, as lictors, etc.
227 Surrounded, shut in.
228 Praevaricatores. The word is properly applied to an advocate who is guilty of collusion with his antagonist, and thus betrays his client.
229 Womanly Fortune.
232 At their nod, or suggestion.
233 They presage.
234 That which was necessary according to the purpose and arrangement of God.
235 Tensa; a carriage on which the images of the gods were carried to the circus at the Circensian games.
236 Deserved nothing, had nothing worthy of punishment. Varro and Paulus Aemilius were the two consuls who commanded at Cannae. Varro escaped, Paulus was slain.
237 Virg., Aen., viii. 292.
238 Ibid., i. 19.
240 They have made old.
241 Jerome says "Great is the anger of God when He does not correct sins, but punishes blindness with blindness. On this very account God sends strong delusion, as St. Paul writes to the Thessalonians, that they should believe a lie, that they all may be damned who have not believed the truth. They are unworthy of the living fountain who dig for themselves cisterns."