Translated by
H. Lawrence Bond

A Dialogue on World Religious Peace
Composed in 1453
by Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464)
Just After the Fall of Constantinople


The endnotes to the translated text: De pace fideiOn the Peace of Faith are under construction.

Chapter One 

1. After the brutal deeds recently committed by the Turkish ruler at Constantinople were reported to a certain man, who had once seen the sites of those regions, (1) he was inflamed by a zeal for God; with many sighs he implored the Creator of all things that in his mercy he restrain the persecution, raging more than ever because of different religious rites. It happened that after several days--perhaps because of long continued meditation--a vision was revealed to this zealous man. (2) From it he concluded that of a few wise men familiar from their own experience with all such differences which are observed in religions throughout the world, a single easy harmony could be found and through it a lasting peace established by appropriate and true means. And so in order for this vision eventually to come to the notice of those who have the decisive word in these great matters, he has written down his vision plainly below, as far as his memory recalled it. 

2. For he was caught up to a certain intellectual height, where, as if among those who had departed from life, an examination of this question was thus held in a council of the highest with the Almighty presiding. The King of heaven and earth stated that the sad news of the groans of the oppressed had been brought to him from this world's realm: because of religion many take up arms against each other and by their power either force men to renounce their long practiced tradition or inflict death on them. There were many bearers of these lamentations from all the earth, and the King ordered that they be present in the full assembly of the saints. Now all of them, as if known to the inhabitants of heaven, seemed to have been established from the beginning by the King of the universe over the individual provinces and traditions; to be sure, their condition was not that of men but of intellectual powers. (3)

3. Then one leader, in the name of all these envoys, delivered the following speech: "O Lord, King of the universe, what does every creature have that you have not given it? (4) It pleased you to inspire the body of man, formed out of the mire of the earth, with a rational spirit so that in him the image of your ineffable power may shine forth. (5) From one individual was multiplied the many people who inhabit the earth's surface. And even if that intellectual spirit, sown in earth and swallowed up in shadow, does not see the light and the source of his beginning, nevertheless, you created along with him everything through which he, kindled by wonder at those things which he contacts by the senses, can sometimes lift the eyes of his mind to you, the Creator of all, and can be reunited to you in highest love and so can finally return to his source with joy. (6)

4. But you know, O Lord, that a great multitude cannot exist without considerable diversity and that almost everyone is forced to lead a life burdened with sorrows and full of miseries and to live in servile submission under the subjection of the rulers who reign over them. Therefore, only a few have enough leisure that they can proceed to a knowledge of themselves using their own free choice. For they are distracted by many bodily cares and duties; and so they are not able to seek you who are a hidden God. (7) Therefore, you appointed for your people different kings and seers who are called prophets; in carrying out the responsibility of your mission many of them have instituted worship and laws in your name and taught the unlettered people. They accepted these laws as if you, the King of kings, had spoken to them face to face, and they believed they heard not them but you in them. You sent the different nations different prophets and teachers, some at one time and others at another. (8) However, it is a characteristic of the earthly human condition that a longstanding custom which is taken as having become nature is defended as truth. (9) Thus not insignificant dissensions occur when each community prefers its faith to another.

5. Therefore, come to our aid you who alone are able. For this rivalry exists for sake of you, whom alone they revere in everything that all seem to worship. For each one desires in all that he seems to desire only the good which you are; no one is seeking with all his intellectual searching for anything else than the truth which you are. For what does the living seek except to live? What does the existing seek except to exist? Therefore, it is you, the giver of life and being, who seem to be sought in the different rites by different ways and are named with different names, because as you are you remain unknown and ineffable to all. For you who are infinite power are none of those things which you have created, nor can a creature grasp the concept of your infinity since there is no proportion between the finite and the infinite. (10) But you, almighty God, who are invisible to every mind, are able to show yourself as visible to whom you will and in the way in which you can be grasped. Therefore, do not hide yourself any longer, O Lord; be merciful and show your face, and all peoples will be saved (11) who are no longer able to forsake the source of life and its sweetness when they have had even a little foretaste of them. For no one withdraws from you unless he does not know you. 

6. If thus you would deign to do this, the sword and the bilious spite of hatred and all evil sufferings will cease; and all will know that there is only one religion in the variety of rites. (12) But if perhaps this difference of rites cannot be removed or if it is not expedient to do so in order that the diversity may contribute to devotion, (13) as when any region expends a more attentive effort in performing its ceremonies as if they would become the more pleasing to you, the King: at any rate, just as you are one, there should be one religion and one veneration of worship. Therefore, may you be appeased, O Lord, for your wrath is compassion and your justice mercy: spare your weak creature. So we, your deputies, whom you have placed as keepers for your people and whom you see here, humbly beseech your majesty by every means of entreaty possible to us."

Chapter Two

7. In response to the archangel's supplication, when all the heavenly citizens together bowed to the highest King, he who was seated on the throne said that he had left man to his own choice and had created him capable in his choice for fellowship with God. But the animal and earthly man is held in ignorance under the Prince of Darkness and walks in accordance with the conditions of the sensible life which is from nowhere else but the world of the Prince of Darkness and not in accordance with the intellectual inner man whose life is from the realm of his origin. (14) Hence, he said that with much care and diligence he had recalled man from his wrong way through various prophets who, by comparison with others, were seers. And finally when all the prophets themselves could not sufficiently overcome the Prince of Darkness, he sent his Word, through which he had also created the world. (15) This Word he clothed with humanity so that at least in this way he might illuminate the docile man having a most free choice and so that he might see that he should walk not according to the outward man but according to the inner man, if he hoped to return one day to the sweetness of eternal life. (16) And since his Word put on the mortal man and with its blood bore witness to this truth: man is capable of eternal life for the attainment of which the animal and sensible life is to be regarded as nothing, and eternal life itself is nothing except the ultimate desire of the inner man, namely, the truth which alone is desired and which, as it is eternal, nourishes the intellect eternally. The truth which nourishes the intellect is nothing but the Word itself; in it all things are enfolded and through it all things are unfolded, (17) and it has put on human nature so that no man may doubt that according to the election of his free choice he can attain the immortal nourishment of the truth in his own human nature, in that man who is also the Word. The Highest added: "And since these things have been done, what is it that could have been done and was not done?"

Chapter Three

8. To this question of the King of kings, the incarnate Word, holding the chief position among all the heavenlies, replied on behalf of all: "Father of Mercies, even though your works are most perfect and nothing has to be added for their completion, nevertheless, since from the beginning you decreed that man stay a being of free choice and since in the sensible world nothing remains stable and because of time opinions and conjectures as well as languages and interpretations vary as things transitory, human nature needs frequent visitation so that the erroneous notions of which there are a great many concerning your Word might be rooted out and truth might continuously shine forth. Since truth is one and since it is not possible that it not be understood by every free intellect, all diversity of religions will be led to one orthodox faith."

9. The King agreed. And after the angels who are set over the nations and languages were called forth, he instructed each angel to lead one who is quite knowledgeable to the incarnate Word. And at once there appeared before the Word the more eminent men of this world, as if caught up into ecstasy. The Word of God addressed them thus: "The Lord, King of heaven and earth, has heard the groans of the slain and the bound and of those reduced to servitude who suffer because of the diversity of religions. And since all those who either cause this persecution or suffer it are led only by the belief that in this way it is expedient to be saved and pleasing to their Creator, therefore, the Lord has had mercy on his people and has decided that by the common consent of all men all diversity of religions be brought peacefully to one religion to remain inviolable from now on. He commits this responsibility of ministry to you as the elected men and from his court gives you as assistants the ministering angelic spirits who are supposed to guard and direct you, and he deems Jerusalem as the place best suited for this." (18)

Chapter Four

10. One who was older than the others and apparently a Greek first made adoration and then replied: "We give praises to our God whose mercy is above all his works; he alone is able to cause so great a diversity of religions to be brought into one concordant peace. His command we his creation are not able not to obey. Therefore, we beseech you now to instruct us how this unity of religion could be introduced by us. For we are persuaded a nation will accept with difficulty another faith different from that which up to now each nation has defended even by its blood." 

The Word answered: "You will find that not another faith but the one and the same faith is presupposed everywhere. For you who are now present are called 'wise' among those who share your own language, or at least 'philosophers,' i.e. 'lovers of wisdom.'"

"This is so," said the Greek. 

"If, therefore, all of you love wisdom, do you not presuppose that there is this wisdom?" 

All shouted together that no one doubts that there is. 

11. The Word added: "There can be only one wisdom. For if it were possible for there to be plural wisdoms, they would have to derive from one wisdom, for before all plurality is unity." (19)

The Greek: "None of us doubts that it is one wisdom which we all love and because of which we are called philosophers. Through participation in it there are many wise men, although this wisdom remains in itself simple and undivided." (20)

The Word: "Therefore, you all agree that the simplest wisdom is one and that its power is ineffable. And each experiences this ineffable and infinite power in the unfolding of its strength. For whenever sight turns itself to those things which are visible and whatever it sees it considers to have come forth from the power of wisdom--and the same is true of hearing and the individual things which sense perceives--, it affirms that invisible wisdom exceeds all things.

12. The Greek: "We who have made this profession of philosophy love the sweetness of wisdom by no other way than a foretaste in wonder at the things which are subject to sense. For who would not die for the sake of reaching such wisdom from which all beauty, all sweetness of life and everything desirable emanate? What a power of wisdom shines forth in the creation of man, in his limbs, in their order, in the life infused, in the harmony of the organs, in movement, and especially in the rational spirit, which is capable of wonderful arts and is, so to speak, a sign of wisdom in which the eternal wisdom shines forth above all things in a close image, as truth in a close likeness! (21) And what is more wonderful above all else: this reflection of wisdom comes nearer and nearer to truth by means of a vigorous conversion of the spirit until from the shadow of image the living reflection itself continually becomes truer and more like true wisdom, although absolute wisdom itself, as it is, is never attainable in anything else; thus eternal, inexhaustible wisdom itself is the perpetual and unfailing intellectual food." (22)

The Word: "You are proceeding rightly toward the purpose to which we strive. Therefore, even though you were called from the different religions, all of you presuppose in all such diversity the one thing which you call wisdom. But tell me, does not one wisdom encompass all that can be said?"

Chapter Five

13. The Italian answered: "Certainly the Word is not apart from wisdom. For the Word of the Supremely Wise is in wisdom, and wisdom is in the Word, nor is anything outside wisdom. For infinite wisdom encompasses everything." 

The Word: "If, therefore, anyone should say that all things have been created in wisdom and another that all have been created in the Word, would they say the same thing or something different?"

The Italian: "Even if a difference in the manner of speech appears, nevertheless, it is the same thing in meaning. For the Word of the Creator in which he has created all things can be nothing other than his wisdom."

14. The Word: "What, therefore, does this seem to you: is this wisdom God or creature?"

The Italian: "Since God the Creator creates all things in wisdom, he is necessarily the wisdom of created wisdom. For before every creature is the wisdom through which every created thing is that which it is."

The Word: "So wisdom is eternal, since it is before everything begun [initiatum] and created." 

The Italian: "No one can deny that what is understood to be before everything created [principiatum] is eternal." 

The Word: "Therefore, it is the beginning [principium]." 

The Italian: "This is true."

The Word: "Therefore, it is the most simple. For every composed thing is derived from a beginning [principiatum]; for the things which compose cannot exist subsequent to that which has been composed."

The Italian: "I admit this." 

15. The Word: "Therefore, wisdom is eternity."

The Italian: "This also cannot be otherwise." 

The Word: "But it is not possible for there to be more than one eternity, since unity is before all plurality."

The Italian: "No one denies this." 

The Word: "Therefore, wisdom is the one, simple and eternal God, the beginning [principium] of all things."

The Italian: "This is necessarily so."

The Word: "See how you, the philosophers of the various traditions, agree in the religion of one God whom you all presuppose, in that which as lovers of wisdom you profess." 

Chapter Six

16. Here the Arab rose and answered: "Nothing clearer or truer can be said." 

The Word: "But just as you, since you are lovers of wisdom, profess absolute wisdom, do you suppose that there are men vigorous in intellect who do not love wisdom?"

The Arab: "I certainly think that all men by nature desire wisdom, since wisdom is the life of the intellect, which cannot be preserved in its life by any other nourishment than the truth and the word of life or its intellectual bread, which is wisdom. For just as every existing thing desires all without which it cannot exist, so the intellectual life desires wisdom."

The Word: "Therefore, all human beings profess with you that there is one absolute wisdom whom they presuppose, and this is the one God."

The Arab: "This is so, and no one who is understanding can establish otherwise." 

The Word: "Therefore, for all who are vigorous in intellect there is one religion and worship, which is presupposed in all the diversity of rites."

17. The Arab: "You are wisdom because you are the Word of God. However, I ask those who worship more than one god how they concur with the philosophers in the concept of one God? For at no time were the philosophers found to have felt other than the impossibility of there being several gods unless one superexalted God stood over them. He alone is the beginning from which the others have what they have in a much more exalted way than a monad is for numbers." (23)

The Word: "All who have ever worshiped more than one god presupposed there is divinity. For this they worship in all the gods as participating in it. For just as without whiteness existing there are no white things, so without divinity existing there are no gods. Therefore, the worship of gods acknowledges divinity. And whoever says there are many gods is saying that there is antecedently one source [principium] of all of them; just as whoever declares there are many saints admits that there is one saint of saints through whose participation all the others are saints. Never was there a people so dull as to believe in plural gods each of which would have been the first cause, source, or creator of the universe."

The Arab: "So I believe. That there is more than one source is a contradiction. For since the source [principium] cannot be caused [principiatum], for it would have been caused of itself and would have been before it was, which reason does not grasp, therefore, the source is eternal. And it is not possible for there to be more than one eternal, for before all plurality is unity. So the source and cause [principium et causa] of the universe necessarily will be one. Consequently, I have not found any nation which has turned aside from the path of truth in this." 

18. The Word: "Therefore, the strife would be ended if all who worship more than one god would look at what they presuppose, namely, the Deity which is the cause of all things, and would, as reason itself dictates, take that deity as manifest into their religion, just as they worship it implicitly in all whom they call gods." 

The Arab: "Perhaps this will not be difficult, but to remove the worship of gods would be a grave matter. For people certainly believe that help is given to them from worship and are inclined to these divine powers for their salvation." 

The Word: "If people were informed about salvation in just the manner stated, they would seek salvation in him who gave being and is himself Savior and infinite salvation, rather than in those who of themselves have nothing except what is given by the Savior himself. Whenever people would take refuge with the gods (whom, because they lived in a godlike manner the opinion of all has held as holy) as if with an acceptable intercessor in some infirmity or other necessity of theirs, or if they would respectfully worship such an intercessor with the reverence [dulia] of veneration or keep his memory reverently because he is a friend of God and his life is to be imitated, then, provided doing either would give to the one and only God all the worship of divine adoration [latriae], it would not contradict the one religion and the people would be easily quieted." (24)

Chapter Seven

19. At this time the Indian asked: "What then of statues and images?" 

The Word: "Images which bring to awareness what is allowed in the true worship of the one God are not condemned. But when they lead one away from the worship of adoration [a cultu latriae] of the one God, as if something of divinity were in the stones and were bound up in the statue, then because they deceive and turn away from the truth, they rightly should be broken into pieces." 

The Indian: "It is difficult to turn a people from a long established idolatry because of the oracles that are given." 

The Word: "Rarely are these oracles made up otherwise than by priests who assert that the divinity has answered thus. For once a question has been proposed, they invent a response whether by some art, which they bring to observation from the disposition of the sky, or by lot, which they ascribe to the divinity, as if heaven or Apollo (25) or the sun ordered them to answer. Consequently, it happens that for the most part their answers are either ambiguous, so that they would not be convicted of lying openly, or completely false; and if sometimes the answers are true, they are true by chance. And when a priest is a good conjecturer, he divines better, and the responses are truer." 

20. The Indian: "It has been ascertained that often some spirit bound in the statue has publicly given answers." 

The Word: "Not the soul of a man or of Apollo or of Asclepius (26) or of another who is worshiped as a god, but the evil spirit, the enemy of human salvation from the beginning, pretended that sometimes, but rarely, he was bound to a statue and was forced to answer, by faith through man, in order to deceive in this way, but after the falsehood was discovered it ceased. So today 'they have a mouth and do not speak.' (27) When through experience this falsehood of the seducer was discovered in many regions, idolatry was condemned in almost all places where wise men live. And similarly in the East it will not be difficult to expose the falsehood of idolatry in order to call on the one God, so that thus those nations might conform to the other nations of the world."

The Indian: "Now that the obvious errors have been discovered and, in consequence, the very prudent Romans, and the Greeks and the Arabs also, have destroyed idols, it is to be hoped in every way that the Indians, as idolaters, (28) will act similarly, especially since they are wise and do not doubt the necessity of religion consisting in the worship of one God. For even if alongside this they would venerate idols in their own way, and these idols would pertain to the worship of the one God, they will thus reach a peaceful conclusion. But it will be very difficult for a concord to be accepted everywhere about the triune God; for it will seem to all that the trinity cannot be conceived without three things, that if there is threeness in the divinity, there will also be plurality in the deity. But it has already been stated, and in truth it is necessary, that there is only one absolute deity. Therefore, there is no plurality in absolute deity but in those who participate, who are not God absolutely, but gods by participation."

21. The Word: "As creator, God is three and one; as infinite, he is neither three nor one nor any of the things which can be spoken. (29) For the names which are attributed to God are taken from creatures, since he in himself is ineffable and beyond everything that can be named or spoken. Since those who worship God should adore him as the beginning of the universe, yet in this one universe one finds a multiplicity of parts, inequality and separation (for the multiplicity of stars, trees, human beings, rocks is obvious to sense), nevertheless, the beginning of all multiplicity is unity; therefore, the beginning of multiplicity is eternal unity. An inequality of parts is found in the one universe, since none is similar to another; but inequality descends from the equality of unity; therefore, before all inequality there is eternal equality. A distinction or separation of parts is found in the one universe; but before all distinction there is a connection of unity and equality, and from this connection separation or distinction descends; the connection therefore is eternal. But there cannot be more than one eternal. Therefore, in one eternity there is found unity, the equality of unity, and the union or connection of unity and equality. So the most simple beginning [principium] of the universe is unitrine, since in the beginning that which has been derived [principiatum] must be enfolded, but everything that has been derived declares thus that it is enfolded in its beginning, and in every thing that has been derived such a threefold distinction is found in the unity of essence. Therefore, the most simple beginning of all things will be threefold and one." (30)

Chapter Eight

22. The Chaldean: "Even if the wise could somewhat grasp these things, nevertheless, they would exceed the common people. (31) For, as I understand, it is not true that there are three gods, but there is one God, who is one and threefold. Do you want to say that this one God is threefold in power?" 

The Word: "God is the absolute power of all powers, because he is omnipotent. Therefore, since there is only one absolute power, which is the divine essence, to say that this power is threefold is to assert only that God is threefold. But you should not thus understand power as distinguished from reality, since in God power is reality itself; (32) so too with absolute potency, which is also power. For it would not seem absurd to anyone if it should be said that divine omnipotence, which is God, has in itself unity, which is being, equality and connection. Thus the potency of unity unites or gives essence to everything that has being--a thing exists insofar as it is one; one and being are interchangeable. And the potency of equality gives equality or forms every existing thing--for as a thing is neither more nor less than it is, it is equal; for if it were greater or less, it would not exist; therefore, it cannot exist apart from equality. So the potency of connection unites or joins. Hence omnipotence in the power of unity summons from non-being, so that what was not becomes capable of being; and in the power of equality it forms; and in the power of connection it joins, as in the essence of love you see how loving joins the lover to the loveable. Therefore, when the human being is summoned by omnipotence from non-being, unity comes first in order, then equality, and finally their nexus. For nothing can exist unless it is one; therefore, one exists antecedently. And since the human being is summoned from non-being, the unity of the human being comes first in order and then the equality of that unity or being, for equality is the unfolding of form in the unity so that the unity of a human being is summoned forth and not that of a lion or of some other thing. But equality cannot exist unless it arises from unity, for unity or identity, not otherness, produces equality. And finally love or the nexus proceeds from unity and equality. For unity and equality are not separable from each other. Therefore, the nexus or love is so constituted that when unity is posited, equality is posited, and when unity and equality are posited, love or the nexus is posited. 

23. Therefore, if no equality is found unless it is the equality of unity, and no nexus is found unless it is the nexus of unity and equality in such a way that the nexus is in the unity and the equality, and the equality is in the unity and the unity in the equality, and both the unity and the equality are in the nexus: it is clear that there is no essential distinction in the trinity. For things that are essentially different are so constituted that one can exist without the existence of the other. But since trinity is so constituted that when unity is posited, the equality of unity is posited and conversely, and when unity and equality are posited, the nexus is posited and conversely, hence it is not in essence but in relation that it appears that unity is one thing, equality a different thing and connection another. Numerical distinction, however, is essential distinction. For the number two differs from three essentially; when two is posited, three is not posited, and three does not follow in consequence of the being of two. Therefore, the trinity in God is not composite or plural or numerical, but it is simplest unity. Those, therefore, who believe in God as one will not deny that he is threefold when they understand that this trinity is not different from simplest unity but is simplest unity in such a way that if this trinity were not in unity, it would not be the omnipotent beginning for the creation of the universe and of individual things. The more united a power is the stronger it is; but the more united it is the simpler it is. Therefore, the more powerful or the stronger it is, the simpler it is. So because the divine essence is omnipotent, it is most simple and threefold. For without trinity it would not be the simplest, strongest and omnipotent beginning." 

The Chaldean: "I believe that no one can disagree with this understanding. But that God has a son and a participant in deity the Arabs and also many others repudiate." 

24. The Word: "Some call the unity 'Father,' the equality 'Son,' and the nexus 'Holy Spirit,' since these terms, although not proper terms, nevertheless, appropriately signify the Trinity. (33) For from the Father is the Son and from the unity and equality of the Son is the love or Spirit. For the nature of the Father passes over into an equality in the Son. Therefore, the love, and nexus, originates from the unity and the equality. And if simpler terms could be found, they would be more suitable, such as, 'unity,' 'thatness' and 'identity.' For these terms seem to unfold more the most fruitful simplicity of the essence. Consider also that since in the essence of the rational soul there is a certain fruitfulness, namely, the mind, wisdom and love or will, because the mind projects from itself understanding or wisdom, from which comes will or love, and this trinity in the unity of the essence of the soul is the fruitfulness which it has in the likeness of the most fruitful uncreated Trinity: so every created thing bears the image of the creative power and in its own way has a fruitfulness in a close or distant likeness to the most fruitful Trinity, which is the creator of all things. Thus the creature not only has being from the divine being but has a fruitful being, in its own way threefold, from the most fruitful three and one being; without this fruitful being neither could the world exist nor would the creature exist in the best way it could." 

Chapter Nine

25. Then the Jew answered: "The supremely blest Trinity, which cannot be denied, has been excellently explained. For a prophet disclosing this to us as briefly as possible declared that God had asked how he who gave others the fruitfulness of generation could himself be sterile. (34) And although the Jews shun the Trinity because they consider it a plurality, nevertheless, once it is understood that the Trinity is the most simple fruitfulness, they will very willingly agree."

26. The Word: "Also the Arabs and all wise philosophers will easily understand from these things that to deny the Trinity is to deny the divine fruitfulness and creative power and that to accept the Trinity is to deny a plurality and consociality of gods. For this fruitfulness, which is also a trinity, makes it unnecessary that there be many gods to concur in the creation of all things, since one infinite fruitfulness is sufficient to create everything creatable. The Arabs will be able to grasp the truth much better in this way rather than in the way in which they say that God has an essence and a soul and add that God has a word and a spirit (35). For if God is said to have a soul, this soul can be understood only as reason or the Word which is God; for reason is not other than the Word. And what then is the Holy Spirit of God except the love which is God? For nothing is verified of the most simple God that he is not himself. If it is true that God has a Word, it is true that the Word is God; if it is true that God has a Spirit, it is true that the Spirit is God. For having improperly suits God, because he is all things in such a way that in God to have is to be. (36) Hence the Arab does not deny that God is mind and that from this mind, word or wisdom is begotten, and from them spirit or love proceeds. And this is that 'trinity' which has been explained above and has been set forth by the Arabs, although most of them do not notice that they are acknowledging the Trinity. So also in your prophets you Jews discover that the heavens were formed by the Word of God and by his Spirit (37). But in the way in which the Arabs and Jews deny a trinity, certainly it is to be denied by all; but in the way in which the truth of the Trinity is explained above, it must be embraced by all."

Chapter Ten

27. Then the Scythian: "There can be no doubt regarding the adoration of the most simple Trinity, which all who venerate gods today also worship. For the wise say that God is the creator of both sexes and that he is love, wishing through this to explain the most fruitful Trinity of the Creator to the extent that they can. (38) Others assert that the superexalted God projects from himself intellect or reason; and this they call 'God from God,' (39) and they call him 'God the Creator,' for every created thing has a cause and reason why it is this and not that. Therefore, the one infinite reason of all things is God. But reason, which is the Logos or Word, emanates from that which speaks it so that when the Omnipotent speaks the Word, those things which are enfolded in the Word are made in reality, so that if Omnipotence should say 'Let there be light,' (40) then the light enfolded in the Word thus actually exists. Therefore, this Word of God is intellectual, so that according as a thing has been conceived in the intellect so that it should be, thus it would exist in reality. They say further that the spirit of connection proceeds in third order; it connects all to one, so that there is unity as the unity of the universe. For they posited a world soul or spirit which connects all things, and through it each creature has participation in the order so that each is part of the universe. (41) Therefore, it is necessary that this spirit in the beginning is itself the beginning. Now love joins. Hence love, or charity, which is God, can be called this spirit whose power is diffused throughout the universe; in this way the nexus by which the parts are connected to one, or the whole, and without which there would be no perfection has God as its beginning. So it is clearly seen that all the wise have touched on something of the trinity in unity. And, consequently, when they hear the explanation we have heard they will rejoice and give praise." 

28. The Frenchman answers: "Once I heard this argument brought forward among the learned: eternity is either unbegotten or begotten or neither unbegotten nor begotten. I see that the unbegotten is reasonably called the 'omnipotent Father' the begotten the 'Word' or 'Son,' the neither unbegotten nor begotten 'love' or the 'Holy Spirit,' for it proceeds from both and is neither unbegotten since it is not the Father nor begotten since it is not the Son, but it proceeds from both. Eternity, therefore, is one, and it is threefold and most simple; the one deity is threefold, the one essence is threefold, the one life is threefold, the one potency is threefold, the one power is threefold. In this 'school' I have now made progress so that what was obscure is visible more clearly than light, as far as it is now given. And since in the world a very great contradiction remains, as some assert that the Word was made flesh for the redemption of all but others hold different opinions, we have to be informed how to reach concord in this difficult matter."

The Word: "The Apostle Peter has undertaken the explanation of this part. Hear him; for he will sufficiently teach everything that is hidden to you."

And when Peter appeared in their midst, he thus began:

Chapter Eleven

29. Peter: "Every disagreement about the incarnate Word seems to have these different forms. First, some say that the Word of God is not God; and this part has already been sufficiently explained, for the Word of God can be only God. Now this Word is reason; for in Greek logos signifies 'word,' which is reason. That God, who is the creator of all rational souls and spirits, possesses reason is beyond doubt. But this reason of God is only God, as has already been explained; for in God having coincides with being. For he from whom all things are embraces all things in himself and is all in all, (42) for he is the former of all; therefore, he is the form of forms. (43) Now the form of forms enfolds in himself all formable forms. Therefore, the Word, or Reason, the infinite cause and measure of all that can be made, is God. So those who admit that the Word of God has become flesh or man must confess that that man whom they call the Word of God is also God."

30. Then the Persian said: "Peter, the Word of God is God. How could God, who is immutable, become not God but a man, and the creator a creature? Except for a few in Europe, almost all of us deny this. And if there are some among us who are called Christians, they agree with us about the impossibility of the infinite being finite and the eternal temporal." (44)

Peter: "I firmly deny with you that the eternal is temporal. But since all of you who hold to the law of the Arabs say that Christ is the Word of God, and you say well, you must also acknowledge that he is God."

The Persian: "We acknowledge that he is the Word and Spirit of God, as though among all who are or were no one had that excellence of the Word and Spirit of God; however, we do not admit therefore that he was God, who has no sharer. So lest we fall into a plurality of gods, we deny that he is God, although we do profess him to be nearest to God."

31. Peter: "Do you believe in a human nature in Christ?"

The Persian: "We do, and we affirm both that it was true in him and that it remained." 

Peter: "Very good. This nature, because it was human, was not divine. And so in everything that you have seen in Christ according to this human nature, by which he was similar to other men, you have not apprehended Christ as God but as man."

The Persian: "That is so."

Peter: "No one differs with you on this point. For human nature was most perfect in Christ; by it he was a true and mortal man like other men; but in accordance with that nature he was not the Word of God. Therefore, tell me: when you acknowledge him to be the Word of God, what do you mean?" 

32. The Persian: "Not nature but grace, namely, that he obtained the sublime grace that God placed his Word in him."

Peter: "Did not God similarly place his Word in other prophets? For all have spoken through the Word of the Lord and were heralds of the Word of God."

The Persian: "This is so. But of all prophets Christ was the greatest; therefore, it befits him more properly than the other prophets to be called the Word of God. For several missives could contain a word of the king for particular matters and individual provinces, but there is only one which contains the word of the king by which the whole kingdom is ruled, namely, the missive which contains the law and precept which all are bound to obey."

Peter: "You seem to have provided a good likeness to this end, namely, that the word of the king written on different sheets does not change the sheets into other natures; for after the writing down of the word their nature still remains as it was before. In this way you say that the human nature remained in Christ." 

The Persian: "We do." 

33. Peter: "Good. But notice what a difference there is between missives and the heir of the kingdom. The word of the king is properly living, free and unlimited in the heir of the kingdom but not at all in the missives." 

The Persian: "I admit that; if a king sends his heir into the kingdom, the heir carries the word of the father living and unlimited."

Peter: "Is not the heir properly the word and not the messenger or envoy, or the letter or missive? And are not all the words of messengers and letters enfolded in the word of the heir? And even if the heir of the kingdom is not the father but the son, he is not different from the king's nature, and because of this equality he is the heir." 

34. The Persian: "I understand that well. But this stands in the way: the king and the son are two; therefore, we do not admit that God has a son. For the son would be a different god from the Father, just as the son of the king would be a different man from the father."

Peter: "You oppose this likeness, because it does not properly apply if you consider the subjects [supposita]. But if you remove the numerical distinction of the subjects and look at the power which is in the royal dignity of the Father and of the Son, his heir, then you see how that royal power is one in the Father and in the Son; in the Father as in the unbegotten, in the Son as in the begotten or living Word of the Father."

The Persian: "Continue."

Peter: "Suppose, therefore, that there is such an absolute unbegotten and begotten royal power and that such an unbegotten power calls one who is by nature an alien to join with him in the begotten connatural succession so that a different nature in union with his own nature possesses the kingdom at the same time and undividedly. Do not the natural succession and the gracious or adoptive succession concur in one inheritance?" 

The Persian: "This is clear." 

35. Peter: "So also sonship and adoption are united in the one succession of one kingdom; but the succession of adoption is not supposited [suppositatur] in itself but in the succession of sonship. For if adoption, which does not succeed from its own nature, is to succeed when there is sonship, it is necessary that adoption not be supposited in itself but in sonship, as he who succeeds by nature. If, therefore, adoption, so that it succeeds with sonship in obtaining the simplest and indivisible inheritance, does not acquire succession from itself but from sonship, the adoptive successor will not be one person and the natural successor another, although the nature of adoption is different from the nature of the natural successor. For if the adopted successor were separate and were not of the same hypostasis with the natural successor, how would he concur in the succession of indivisible inheritance? Therefore, it must be held that in Christ the human nature is so united with the Word or the divine nature that the human nature does not pass into the divine but clings in such an indissoluble way that it is not a person separately in itself but in the divine nature; the end then is that the human nature, called to the succession of eternal life with the divine, can obtain immortality in the divine nature." 

Chapter Twelve

36. The Persian: "I understand this adequately; but clarify what you have said with another understandable example."

Peter: "Precise similitudes are not possible; but consider wisdom in itself. Is it accident or substance?" 

The Persian: "Substance as it is in itself; but accident as it befalls another." 

Peter: "But all wisdom in all the wise is from that which is wisdom per se, because it is God." (45)

The Persian: "These things have been shown." 

Peter: "Is not one man wiser than another?"

The Persian: "Certainly."

Peter: "Therefore, he who is wiser is closer to wisdom per se, which is absolutely maximum; and he who is less wise is farther from it."

The Persian: "I agree."

Peter: "But in accordance with human nature never is anyone so wise that he could not be wiser. For between contracted wisdom, I. e., human wisdom, and wisdom per se, which is divine and maximum and infinite, there always remains an infinite distance." (46)

The Persian: "And this is evident also." 

37. Peter: "So it is with absolute mastery and contracted mastery; (47) for in absolute mastery there is an infinite art, in contracted mastery a finite art. Therefore, suppose that someone's intellect had such mastery and such wisdom that it would not be possible to have a greater wisdom or greater mastery; then his intellect has been most greatly united with wisdom per se or mastery per se, so much that this union could not be greater. Has not this intellect in the power of the united greatest wisdom and of the united greatest mastery, to whom it is united, obtained divine power? And would not the human intellectual nature in a man who has such an intellect be most immediately united to divine nature or eternal wisdom, to the Word or omnipotent art?"

The Persian: "I admit all this, but this union would still be one of grace."

38. Peter: "If the union of the lower nature with the divine would be so great that it could not be greater, then the lower would be united with the divine also in personal union. For as long as the lower nature is not elevated to personal and hypostatic union with the higher nature, it could be greater. Therefore, if the union is posited as the greatest, the lower exists in the higher by adhering; and this occurs not by nature but by grace. However, this greatest grace, which cannot be greater, is not separate from nature but is united with it. Hence, even though it is by grace that human nature is united with the divine, nevertheless, this grace, since it cannot be greater, most immediately terminates in nature." (48)

The Persian: "However you will have stated it, because human nature can be elevated by grace to union with the divine in any man, the man Christ should no more be said to be God than any other saint, even though he is the holiest of men."

39. Peter: "If you consider the loftiest height which cannot be greater and the greatest grace which cannot be greater, and the greatest holiness, and so on, to be in Christ alone; then if you consider it impossible for there to be more than one greatest height which cannot be greater, and the same for grace and holiness; and next if you see all height of every prophet, whatever degree he may have reached, to be improportionally distant from that height which cannot be greater so that given any degree of height, between it and the only highest there can occur an infinite number higher than the given and lower than the highest (so too with grace, holiness, prudence, wisdom, mastery, etc.): then you would see clearly that there can be only the one Christ, in whom human nature is united with the divine nature in supposited unity. And even the Arabs admit this, although many do not consider this thoroughly. For the Arabs say that Christ alone is the loftiest in this world and the next and is the Word of God. (49) Nor do those who say that Christ is God and man say anything other than that Christ alone is the loftiest man and the Word of God." 

The Persian: "It seems that when that union which is necessary in the highest is considered well, the Arabs can be brought to accept this belief, since through it the unity of God, which they most greatly strive to protect, is not violated but preserved. But tell me how can it be grasped that human nature is not supposited in itself but by adhering to the divine?" 

40. Peter: "Take this example, although it is a remote one: a magnet draws iron upward, (50) and by adhering to the magnetic ore the nature of the iron does not subsist in its own weighty nature, otherwise it would not hang in the air, but in accordance with its nature it would fall towards the center of the earth. Yet in the power of the magnet's nature the iron, by adhering to the magnet, subsists in the air and not by the power of its own nature according to which it could not be there. Now the iron's nature is inclined in this way to the magnet's nature because the iron has in itself a likeness to the magnet's nature, from which it is said to have taken its origin. So if the intellectual human nature should adhere in the closest way to divine intellectual nature, from which it has received its being, it would adhere to it as inseparably as to the font of its life." 

The Persian: "I understand."

41. Peter: "Further, the sect of Arabs, which is large, also admits that Christ raised the dead and created birds from clay and many other things which they expressly confess Jesus Christ to have done as one having power; (51) from this belief they can easily be led, since it cannot be denied that he himself did these things in the power of the divine nature to which the human was hypostatically [suppositaliter] united. For the power of Christ by which he ordered those things to be done which the Arabs confess were done by him could not have been according to human nature unless the human would have been assumed in union with the divine, whose power it is to order in such a way." 

The Persian: "These things and more the Arabs affirm about Christ, and they are written in the Qur'an. (52) Nevertheless, it will be more difficult to bring the Jews than others to this belief for they admit nothing expressly about Christ." 

Peter: "They have all these things in their scriptures about Christ; but following the literal sense they do not want to understand. Nevertheless, this resistance of the Jews will not impede concord. For they are few and will not be able by arms to disturb the whole world."

Chapter Thirteen

42. The Syrian responded: "Peter, earlier I heard that concord can be found in every tradition; explain how this can be verified in this point."

Peter: "I will, but first tell me: is not God alone eternal and immortal?"

The Syrian: "So I believe, for everything except God has a beginning. Therefore, since it has a beginning, it will, in accordance with its nature, also have an end." 

Peter: "Does not almost every religion--of the Jews, Christians, Arabs and most other men--hold that the human mortal nature of every man will arise after temporal death to everlasting life."

Syrian: "So it believes."

Peter: "Therefore, all these acknowledge that human nature ought to be united with divine and immortal nature. For otherwise how would human nature pass on to immortality if it did not adhere to the divine in inseparable union?"

The Syrian: "Faith of the resurrection necessarily presupposes this." 

43. Peter: "Therefore, if faith holds this, then the human nature is antecedently united with the divine nature in some man, namely, in him who is the face of all peoples and the highest Messiah and Christ, (53) as the Arabs and Jews call Christ. For he who is, according to all, the closest to God will be that one in whom the nature of all men is antecedently united in God. For this reason he is the savior and mediator of all; in him human nature, which is one and through which all men are men, is united with the divine and immortal nature so that in this way all men, being of the same nature, obtain resurrection from the dead."

The Syrian: "I understand that you want to say that faith of the resurrection of the dead presupposes union of the human nature with the divine without which this faith would be impossible; and you assert that this union is in Christ; consequently, this faith presupposes him." 

44. Peter: "You understand correctly. Therefore, accept that all the promises which are found to have been given to the Jews are confirmed in the faith in the Messiah or mediator, by whom alone the promises regarding eternal life could and can be fulfilled."

The Syrian: "What of the other traditions?"

Peter: "The same. For all men desire and expect only eternal life in their human nature, and for this they instituted ceremonies for the purification of souls and sacrifices [sacra] in order better to fit themselves for eternal life in their nature. (54) Men do not desire happiness, which is eternal life, in any other nature than their own; man does not wish to be anything else but man, not an angel or any other nature; but he wants to be a happy man who would obtain final happiness. Now this happiness is nothing else but the fruition or union of the human life with its source, from which life itself flows, that is, with the divine immortal life. But how would this be possible for man unless it is conceded that the common nature of all men is elevated to such a union in some person through whom as mediator all men could acquire the ultimate goal of their desires? And this person is the way because he is the man through whom every man has access to God, who is the goal of desires. It is Christ, therefore, who is presupposed by all who hope to obtain final happiness."

45. The Syrian: "I like what you say very much. For if human intellect believes that it can obtain union with wisdom in which it acquires an eternal nourishment for its life, it presupposes that the intellect of some highest man has acquired the union in the highest way and has obtained this highest mastery through which it hopes similarly at some time to attain that wisdom. For if it did not believe it possible even in some highest of all men, it would hope in vain. The hope of all men is that they can sometime obtain happiness, for this is the end of all religion. And there is no deception in this, for this hope, common to all, is from an innate longing, and to such hope religion, thus likewise innate in all, seeks to attain. (55) Therefore, I see that this master and mediator, who holds the highest perfection and the highest rank in human nature, is presupposed by all. But the Jews say perhaps this prince of nature, in whom all the deficiencies of all men are made full, has not yet been born but will be born one day." 

Peter: "It is enough that Arabs as well as Christians and others who have borne testimony in their own blood testify--through what the prophets have said about him and through what he did beyond human possibility when he was in the world--that he has come." (56)

Chapter Fourteen

46. The Spaniard: "There will perhaps be another difficulty about the Messiah, whom the greater part of the world admits has come, and this is the question of his birth, for Christians and Arabs assert that he was born of the Virgin Mary and others maintain that this is impossible." (57)

Peter: "All who believe that Christ has come acknowledge that he was born of the Virgin. For since he is the finality of perfection of nature and alone most high, of which father should he be the son? For every father who begets in the perfection of nature differs from the finality of perfection in such a way that he cannot communicate the final perfection beyond which there can be no higher and which is not possible except for one man. Only that father who is the creator of nature can do this. Therefore, the most high has as father only him from whom is all fatherhood. (58) So the most high is conceived by divine power in the womb of a virgin, and in this virgin the highest fruitfulness concurred with virginity. Hence Christ was born to us in such a way that he is joined to all men most intimately. For he has as father him from whom every father of man has his fatherhood; and he has her as mother who was united carnally with no man; thus through a most close conjoining each one may find in Christ his own nature in final perfection."

47. The Turk: "Not a small difference still remains, for Christians assert that Christ was crucified by the Jews but others deny it."

Peter: "Because some are ignorant of the mystery of death they deny that Christ was crucified and say that he still lives and will come at the time of the Antichrist. (59) And since he will come as they assert, they believe that he will come in mortal flesh, as if otherwise he could not subdue the Antichrist. And they deny that Christ was crucified by the Jews apparently out of reverence for Christ, as if such men would have had no power over Christ. But notice that one rightly ought to believe the accounts, which are many, and the preaching of the Apostles, who died for the truth, namely, that Christ so died. For thus the prophets foretold that he had to be condemned to the most shameful death, which was the death of the cross. And this is the reason: for Christ came having been sent by God the Father in order to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven, and of that Kingdom he said things that could not be better proved by him than by the testimony of his blood. Hence that he might be most obedient to God the Father and might furnish all certainty for the truth which he announced, he died, and he died a most shameful death so that no man should refuse to receive this truth, as a testimony for which all would know that Christ voluntarily accepted death. For he preached the Kingdom of Heaven by proclaiming how man, capable of that kingdom, could reach it. In comparison with that kingdom the life of this world, which is loved so persistently by all, is to be regarded as nothing. And in order that it may be known that this life of the Kingdom of Heaven is truth, he gave up the life of this world for truth. Thus he might most perfectly proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven and liberate the world from ignorance, by which the world prefers this life to the life of the future, and might give himself up in sacrifice for many; so that thus lifted up on the cross in the sight of all, he might draw all to believe and glorify the Gospel and strengthen the fainthearted and freely give himself up for the redemption of many, (60) and do everything in the best possible way so that men might obtain the faith of salvation, the hope of acquiring it and love by fulfilling the commandments of God. 

48. Therefore, if the Arabs would consider the fruit of Christ's death and that it was up to him as one sent by God to sacrifice himself in order to fulfill the desire of his Father and that there was nothing more glorious for Christ than to die for the sake of truth and obedience, even the most shameful death: they would not remove from Christ this glory of the cross, by which he merited to be the most high and to be superexalted in the glory of the Father. Finally, if Christ preached that in the resurrection men will attain immortality after death, how could the world be better assured of this than that he willingly died and was resurrected and appeared alive? For the world then was made certain by a final attestation when, from the testimony of many, who saw him alive and died so that they might be faithful witnesses of his resurrection, it heard that the man Christ had died openly on the cross and had publicly risen from the dead and was alive. Therefore, this was the most perfect proclamation of the Gospel, which Christ made known in himself, and which could not be more perfect; and without death and resurrection it could always have been more perfect. Therefore, whoever believes that Christ most perfectly fulfilled the will of God the Father must confess all these things without which the proclamation would not have been most perfect.

49. Notice, further, that the Kingdom of Heaven was hidden to all until Christ. For this is the gospel of Christ to announce the kingdom which is unknown to all. Therefore, there was no faith or hope of obtaining the Kingdom of Heaven, nor could it have been loved by anyone since it was completely unknown. Nor was it possible that any man would have attained that kingdom, since human nature had not yet been elevated to that exaltation so that it would become partaker of the divine nature. (61) Therefore, Christ opened the Kingdom of Heaven in every way of opening. But no one can enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless he lay aside the kingdom of this world through death. For it is necessary that the mortal lay aside mortality, that is, the potentiality of dying; and this may be done only through death. Then can the mortal put on immortality. (62) Now if Christ as mortal man had not yet died, he would not yet have laid aside mortality; this would mean he did not enter the Kingdom of Heaven in which no mortal can be. Therefore, if he who is the firstfruits and first-born of all men did not open the heavenly realms, (63) our nature united with God has not yet been introduced into the kingdom. Thus no man could have been in the Kingdom of Heaven if human nature united with God had not yet been introduced. All men who believe in the Kingdom of Heaven assert the contrary; for all confess that some holy ones in their tradition have obtained happiness. Therefore, the faith of all who confess that their holy ones are in eternal glory presupposes that Christ died and ascended into heaven."

Chapter Fifteen

50. The German: "All this is excellent, but I perceive not a few discrepancies regarding happiness. For it is said that only temporal things, which consist of sensible goods, have been promised to the Jews in their law. And one reads that only carnal things, though everlasting, have been promised to the Arabs in their law, which is written in the Qur'an. (64) But the Gospel promises the form of angels, namely, that men will be similar to angels, who have nothing of carnality in them." 

Peter: "What in this world can be conceived the desire for which does not diminish but continually increases?" 

The German: "All temporal things diminish, only intellectual things never do; even if eating, drinking, living to excess and the like are sometimes pleasing, at other times they are unpleasant and inconsistent. But knowing, understanding, and contemplating truth with the mind's eye are always pleasing. And the older a man becomes the more these things please him, and the more he acquires of these the more his desire for having them is increased." (65)

51. Peter: "Therefore, if the desire is to be continuous and the nourishment everlasting, it will be neither temporal nor sensible but the food of intellectual life. And although the promise of a Paradise where there are rivers of wine and honey and a multitude of young women is found in the law of the Qur'an (66) . . . it is necessary that these things be understood figuratively. For elsewhere the Qur'an forbids lying together and all other carnal pleasures in churches and synagogues or mosques. It ought not be believed that mosques are holier than Paradise. Therefore, how would these things be prohibited here in mosques which will be permitted there in Paradise? (67) Elsewhere it says that all these things are found there because it is necessary that in Paradise there occurs the fulfillment of all the things which are desired there. In this it reveals well enough when it wants to say that such things are found there. For since these things would be so desired in this world, from the presupposition that there would be an equal desire in the next world, then they should be found there exquisitely and abundantly. For otherwise it could declare that that life is the fulfillment of desires only by this similitude. It did not want to state to an uneducated populace other more hidden things but only those things which seem happier according to the senses, lest the populace, which does not relish the things of the spirit, would disparage the promises. 

52. Hence the whole concern of him who wrote that law appears chiefly to have been to turn the people away from idolatry; and to that end he made such promises and set forth all these things. But he did not condemn the Gospel; on the contrary, he praised it giving to understand that the happiness promised in the Gospel is not less than that corporeal happiness. And the understanding and the wise among them know this to be true. And Avicenna incomparably prefers the intellectual happiness of the vision or fruition of God and of the truth to the happiness described in the law of the Arabs, although he was an adherent of that law; so it is with other wise men. (68) Therefore, in this matter there will be no difficulty in reconciling all traditions. For it is said that that happiness is above everything that can be written or spoken for it is the completion of every desire and the attainment of the good in its source and of life in immortality."

53. The German: "What then of the Jews who do not grasp the promise of the Kingdom of Heaven but only the promise of temporal things?"

Peter: "The Jews often surrender themselves to death for the sake of the observance of the law and its holiness. Hence if they did not believe that thus they would obtain happiness after death, for they prefer zeal for the law to life, they would not die. Therefore, it is not the belief of the Jews that there is no eternal life or that they could not obtain it; otherwise none of all these would die for the law. But the happiness they expect they do not expect from the works of the law--because those laws do not promise it--but from the faith which presupposes Christ, as was stated before."

Chapter Sixteen

54. The Tartar: "I have heard many things here previously unknown to me. The Tartars, who are many and simple, for the most part believing in one God, (69) marvel at the variety of rites of others who also worship the same God with them. For assuredly they laugh at the fact that some Christians and all the Arabs and Jews are circumcised, that some have their faces branded, and others are baptized. Finally, regarding marriage there is much diversity, for one has only one wife, another has only one that is truly married to him but many concubines, yet another has many legitimate wives. And concerning sacrifices the rite is so diverse that it cannot be recited. Among these varieties the sacrifice of the Christians in which they offer bread and wine and say that these are the body and blood of Christ, which they eat and drink after the oblation, seems especially abominable: they devour whom they worship. I do not grasp how there could be a oneness in these things which vary also according to place and time; and unless it occurs, persecution will not end. For diversity gives birth to division and to hostility, hatred and war."

55. Then by commission of the Word, Paul, teacher to the gentiles, rose and said:

Paul: "It is necessary that it be shown that salvation of the soul is not granted from works but from faith. For Abraham, father of the faith of all believers, whether Christians or Arabs or Jews, believed in God, and this was credited to him as righteousness: (70) the soul of the just will inherit eternal life. When this is acknowledged these varieties of rites will not be a cause of disturbance. For they have been instituted and received as sensible signs of the truth of faith. But signs are subject to change, not however that which is signified."

The Tartar: "Explain how faith saves." 

Paul: "If God has promised something from his sheer generosity and grace, should he who is able to give all things and is truthful not be believed?"

The Tartar: "Certainly. No one believing him can be deceived; and whoever does not believe him would be unworthy of obtaining any grace."

Paul: "Therefore, what justifies him who obtains righteousness?" 

The Tartar: "Not merits; otherwise it would not be grace but obligation."

Paul: "Excellent. But because no living being is justified in the sight of God through works but through grace, the Omnipotent gives to whom he will what he will. Then if anyone should be worthy to obtain the promise which has been made out of pure grace, he must believe God. In believing, therefore, he is justified, since from faith alone he obtains the promise, for he believes God and expects God's word to be done." 

56. The Tartar: "After God has promised, it is just that the promises be kept. Therefore, whoever believes God is justified through the promise rather than through faith." 

Paul: "God, who promised to Abraham a seed in whom all would be blessed, justified Abraham that he might obtain the promise. But if Abraham had not believed God, he would have obtained neither justification nor the promise."

The Tartar: "This is true."

Paul: "Therefore, in Abraham faith had such effect that the fulfillment of the promise--that promise which otherwise would not have been just or fulfilled--was just."

57. The Tartar: "What, therefore, did God promise?"

Paul: "God promised Abraham that in Isaac he would give him a seed in which all peoples would be blessed. And this promise was given when according to the ordinary course of nature it was impossible for Sarah, his wife, to conceive from him and to give birth; but because he believed, he acquired a son Isaac. Later God tested Abraham that he should offer up and slay the boy Isaac in whom the promise of the seed was made. And Abraham obeyed God, yet he believed no less that the promise would also be fulfilled even from the dead son after his having to be raised from the dead. Hence God found such great faith in Abraham; thereupon Abraham was justified, and the promise was fulfilled in the one seed, which descended from him through Isaac."

The Tartar: "What is this seed?"

Paul: "Christ. For all peoples obtain divine blessing in him."

The Tartar: "What is this blessing?"

Paul: "The divine blessing is the final goal of desires or the happiness which is called eternal life, about which you have already heard sufficiently."

The Tartar: "Therefore, do you mean to say that God promised us the blessing of eternal happiness in Christ?"

Paul: "This is what I mean. Consequently, it is necessary to believe God as Abraham believed, so that whoever so believes is justified, along with the faithful Abraham, in order to obtain the promise in the one seed of Abraham, Christ Jesus; this promise is the divine blessing enfolding every good in itself."

58. The Tartar: "Therefore, do you mean to say that this faith alone justifies so that we may receive eternal life?" (71)

Paul: "Yes."

The Tartar: "How will you give to the simple Tartars understanding of this so that they may grasp that it is Christ in whom they can obtain happiness?"

Paul: "You have heard that not only Christians but also Arabs acknowledge that Christ is the highest of all who have been or will be in this age or the next and that he is the face of all peoples. If, therefore, the blessing of all is in one seed, this can only be Christ."

The Tartar: "What kind of sign do you bring for this?"

Paul: "I bring forward the testimony of the Arabs as well as of the Christians that the spirit making the dead to live is the spirit of Christ. If, therefore, the spirit of life is in Christ, who is able to give life to those he will, then he is the spirit without whom no dead can be revived and no spirit can live eternally. For the fullness of divinity and grace indwell the spirit of Christ, and from this fullness all who are to be saved receive the grace of salvation."

The Tartar: "It is pleasing to have heard this thing from you, Teacher of the Gentiles, for along with the things that I heard earlier they are sufficient for our purpose. I see also that this faith is necessary for salvation; without faith no one will be saved. But I ask, does faith suffice?" 

Paul: "Without faith it is impossible for anyone to please God. (72) But it must be a formed faith; for without works it is dead." (73)

59. The Tartar: "Which works are these?"

Paul: "If you believe God, you keep his commandments. For how do you believe God to be God if you do not strive to fulfill what he commands?"

The Tartar: "It is fitting that God's commandments be kept. But the Jews say they have his commandments through Moses, the Arabs through Mohammed, the Christians through Jesus, and the other nations perhaps venerate their own prophets by whose hands they claim to have received the divine commandments. How, therefore, would we come to agreement?"

Paul: "The divine commandments are very brief and well known to all and are common to all nations. Indeed, the light showing them to us was created simultaneously with the rational soul. For God speaks in us that we should love him from whom we have received being and that we should do to another only what we want done to us. (74) Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law of God, and all laws are brought back to this." (75)

60. The Tartar: "I do not doubt that both the faith and the law of love of which you spoke will be grasped by the Tartars. But I have much hesitation about rites; for I do not know how they will accept circumcision, which they scorn."

Paul: "Accepting circumcision has no bearing on the truth of salvation. For circumcision does not save, and there is salvation without it. (76) Yet whoever does not believe circumcision to be necessary for obtaining salvation but allows it to be done on him in order to be in this also more like Abraham and his followers is not condemned because of circumcision if he has the faith which was just described. Thus Christ was circumcised, and many among the Christians after him, as still today with the Ethiopian Jacobites and others who are circumcised but not as if this rite were a sacrament necessary for salvation. (77) But how peace could be preserved among the faithful if some are circumcised and others not is a major question. Hence because the larger part of the world is without circumcision and in view of the fact that circumcision is not necessary, I consider it fitting that in order to preserve peace the smaller part thus conform to the larger part, with whom they are united in faith. But if because of peace the larger part should conform to the smaller part and accept circumcision, it ought to be done voluntarily so that peace thus might be established by mutual interchanges. For if in the cause of peace other nations accept faith from Christians and the Christians circumcision from them, peace would be better made and strengthened. Yet I think that the practice of this would be difficult. Therefore, it should suffice that peace be established in faith and in the law of love and that rite thus be mutually tolerated."

Chapter Seventeen

61. The Armenian: "What do you think should be done about baptism since Christians consider it a necessary sacrament?" 

Paul: "Baptism is a sacrament of faith. For whoever believes that it is possible to obtain a justification in Jesus Christ believes that there is a taking away of sins through him. Each of the faithful will show this cleansing signified in the baptismal washing. For baptism is nothing but the confession of this faith in the sacramental sign. He would not be one of the faithful who would not acknowledge his faith in speech and in signs which Christ instituted for this purpose. Both the Hebrews and the Arabs perform baptismal washings for the sake of religious devotion, and they will not find it difficult to accept the washing instituted by Christ for the profession of faith." (78)

62. The Armenian: "It seems necessary to accept this sacrament since it is necessary for salvation."

Paul: "Faith is a necessity for adults, who can be saved without the sacrament when they cannot receive it. But when they can, they cannot be called the faithful who do not wish to show themselves as such through the sacrament of regeneration." 

The Armenian: "What about little children?"

Paul: "The Hebrews and the Arabs more readily agree that little children be baptized. Since for the sake of religion they let males be circumcised on the eighth day, commutation of this circumcision to baptism will be agreeable, and the option of whether they wish to be content with baptism will be given."

Chapter Eighteen

63. The Bohemian: "In everything that has already been set forth it should be possible to find agreement, but it will be very difficult with sacrifices. For we know that Christians cannot give up the offering of bread and wine for the sacrament of the Eucharist in order to please others, since this sacrifice was instituted by Christ. But it is not easy to believe that other nations which do not have the custom of sacrificing in this way will accept this manner, especially since they say that it is insanity to believe in a conversion of the bread into Christ's flesh and of the wine into his blood and then to consume the sacraments." 

Paul: "This sacrament of the Eucharist represents nothing else but that from the grace in Christ Jesus we will obtain the refreshment of eternal life, just as in this world we are refreshed by bread and wine. Therefore, when we believe that Christ is the food of the mind, then we take him under visible forms which feed the body. And since it is necessary that we agree in the belief that we obtain the food of the life of the spirit in Christ, why should we not show that we believe this in the sacrament of the Eucharist? It is to be hoped that in general all the faithful want to enjoy in this world, by faith, the food which will in truth be the food of our life in the other world." 

64. The Bohemian: "How will you persuade all peoples that in the sacrament of the Eucharist the substance of the bread is changed into the body of Christ?"

Paul: "The believer knows that the Word of God in Christ Jesus will lead us from the misery of this world to the sonship of God and to the possession of eternal life, for with God nothing is impossible. Therefore, if we believe this and hope, then we do not doubt that according to Christ's ordinance the Word of God can change bread into flesh. If nature does this in animals, how should the Word, through whom God also made the worlds, not do this? Therefore, the necessity of faith demands that we believe it. For if it is possible that we the sons of Adam, who are from the earth, are transformed in Christ Jesus by the Word of God into sons of the immortal God and if we believe this and hope it to come and if it is possible that we will then as Jesus be the Word of God the Father: it is necessary that we likewise believe in the transubstantiation of the bread into flesh and of the wine into blood through the same Word, by whom bread is bread and wine is wine, and flesh is flesh and blood is blood, and through whom nature converts food into him who is fed."

65. The Bohemian: "This conversion of the substance of the bread is difficult to grasp." (79)

Paul: "It is very easy through faith. For this is attainable only by the mind, which alone looks on the 'that' of substance, not its 'what'; for substance precedes every accident. And so since substance is neither a quality nor a quantity and only the substance is changed so that it is no longer the substance of bread but the substance of flesh, this conversion is only spiritual, for it is most distantly removed from everything that can be grasped by sense. Therefore, there is no increase of the quantity of flesh from this conversion, nor is it multiplied in number. Consequently, there is only one substance of flesh into which the substance of bread has been changed, even if the bread is offered in different places and many breads are placed in sacrifice." The Bohemian: "I grasp your teaching, which is very agreeable to me, that this sacrament is the sacrament of the food of eternal life through which we obtain the inheritance of the sons of God in Christ Jesus, the Son of God; that there is a likeness of this in the sacrament of the Eucharist; and that it is attained only by the mind and is tasted and received through faith. What if these secrets are not received? For the uneducated will perhaps shudder not only at believing this but at taking such great sacraments."

66. Paul: "If faith is present, this sacrament, as it is in sensible signs, is not thus of such a necessity that without it there is no salvation; for it is sufficient for salvation to believe and in this way to eat the bread of life. And so regarding its distribution, whether and to whom and how often it should be given to the people, no law of necessity has been set down. Therefore, if anyone having faith considers himself unworthy to approach the table of the highest King, this is a humility rather to be praised. Thus, as to the question of its use and rite, that which is seen by Church leaders to be more expedient for the time in any religion--always with faith preserved--could be ordered in such a way that by means of a common law the peace of faith might not persevere less intact because of a diversity of rites."

Chapter Nineteen

67. The Englishman: "What will be done about the other sacraments, that is, marriage, orders, confirmation, and extreme unction?" 

Paul: "It is very often necessary to condescend to human weakness if it does not offend against eternal salvation. For to seek exact conformity in all things is rather to disturb the peace. It is to be hoped, however, that agreement may be found in marriage and in orders. For it seems that in all nations marriage was introduced, as it were, through natural law so that one man has one true wife. So, likewise, priesthood is also found in every religion. Therefore, agreement will be easier in these common things, and also in the judgment of all the others the Christian religion will be proved to observe a more praiseworthy purity in both sacraments."

The Englishman: "What about fastings, ecclesiastical duties [officiis ecclesiasticis], abstinence from food and drink, forms of prayers, etc.?"

Paul: "Where no conformity in manner can be found, nations should be permitted their own devotional practices and ceremonials, provided faith and peace are preserved. A certain diversity will perhaps even increase devotion when each nation will strive to make its own rite more splendid through zeal and diligence in order thus to surpass another and so to obtain greater merit with God and praise in the world."

68. After these things were thus discussed with the wise of the nations, very many books of those who wrote on the observances of the ancients were produced, and indeed excellent ones in every language, for example, among the Latins Marcus Varro, (80) among the Greeks Eusebius, (81) who collected information about the diversity of religions, and very many other authors. After these were examined it was discovered that all the diversity consisted in rites rather than in the worship of one God; from all the writings collected into one it was found that all from the beginning always presupposed and worshiped the one God in all practice of worship, although people in their simplicity, seduced by the adverse power of the Prince of Darkness, often did not consider what they were doing.

Therefore, in the way it has been set forth, a concord of religions was concluded in the heaven of reason. (82) And it was commanded by the King of Kings that the wise return and lead the nations to the unity of true worship, that ministering spirits lead them and assist them and, finally, that with the full power of all they come together in Jerusalem as to a common center and accept one faith in the name of all and thereupon establish an everlasting peace so that in peace the Creator of all, blessed forever, will be praised. Amen.

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