vanity of idols.
then, after you have freed267267 yourself from all prejudices
possessing your mind, and laid aside what you have been accustomed to, as
something apt to deceive268268 you, and being
made, as if from the beginning, a new man, inasmuch as, according to your
own confession, you are to be the hearer of a new [system of] doctrine;
come and contemplate, not with your eyes only, but with your
understanding, the substance and the form269269 of those whom ye declare and deem to be gods. Is
not one of them a stone similar to that on which we tread? Is270270 not a
second brass, in no way superior to those vessels which are constructed
for our ordinary use? Is not a third wood, and that already rotten? Is
not a fourth silver, which needs a man to watch it, lest it be stolen? Is
not a fifth iron, consumed by rust? Is not a sixth earthenware, in no
degree more valuable than that which is formed for the humblest purposes?
Are not all these of corruptible matter? Are they not fabricated by means
of iron and fire? Did not the sculptor fashion one of them, the brazier a
second, the silversmith a third, and the potter a fourth? Was not every
one of them, before they were formed by the arts of these [workmen] into
the shape of these [gods], each in its271271 own way
subject to change? Would not those things which are now vessels, formed
of the same materials, become like to such, if they met with the same
artificers? Might not these, which are now worshipped by you, again be
made by men vessels similar to others? Are they not all deaf? Are they
not blind? Are they not without life? Are they not destitute of feeling?
Are they not incapable of motion? Are they not all liable to rot? Are
they not all corruptible? These things ye call gods; these ye serve;
these ye worship; and ye become altogether like to them. For this reason
ye hate the Christians, because they do not deem these to be gods.
But do not ye yourselves, who now think and suppose [such to be gods],
much more cast contempt upon them than they [the Christians do]? Do ye
not much more mock and insult them, when ye worship those that are made
of stone and earthenware, without appointing any persons to guard them;
but those made of silver and gold ye shut up by night, and appoint
watchers to look after them by day, lest they be stolen? And by those
gifts which ye mean to present to them, do ye not, if they are possessed
of sense, rather punish [than honour] them? But if, on the other hand,
they are destitute of sense, ye convict them of this fact, while ye
worship them with blood and the smoke of sacrifices. Let any one of you
suffer such indignities!272272 Let any one of you endure to have such things done to
himself! But not a single human being will, unless compelled to it,
endure such treatment, since he is endowed with sense and reason.
A stone, however, readily bears it, seeing it is insensible. Certainly
you do not show [by your273273 conduct] that he
[your God] is possessed of sense. And as to the fact that Christians are
not accustomed to serve such gods, I might easily find many other things
to say; but if even what has been said does not seem to any one
sufficient, I deem it idle to say anything further.