For this reason we are branded by them as simple, and as being merely so, without being wise also; as if indeed wisdom were compelled to be wanting in simplicity, whereas the Lord unites them both: “Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and simple as doves.” Now if we, on our parts, be accounted foolish because we are simple, does it then follow that they are not simple because they are wise? Most perverse, however, are they who are not simple, even as they are most foolish who are not wise. And yet, (if I must choose) I should prefer taking the latter condition for the lesser fault; since it is perhaps better to have a wisdom which falls short in quantity, than that which is bad in quality—better to be in error than to mislead. Besides, the face of the Lord is patiently waited for by those who “seek Him in simplicity of heart,” as says the very Valentinus, but—of Solomon. Then, again, infants have borne by their blood a testimony to Christ. (Would you say) that it was children who shouted “Crucify Him”? They were neither children nor infants; in other words, they were not simple. The apostle, too, bids us to “become children again” towards God, “to be as children in malice” by our simplicity, yet as being also “wise in our practical faculties.” At the same time, with respect to the order of development in Wisdom, I have admitted that it flows from simplicity. In brief, “the dove” has usually served to figure Christ; “the serpent,” to tempt Him. The one even from the first has been the harbinger of divine peace; the other from the beginning has been the despoiler of the divine image. Accordingly, simplicity alone will be more easily able to know and to declare God, whereas wisdom alone will rather do Him violence, and betray Him.
Against the Valentinians