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ANF04. Fathers of the Third Century: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second
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Chapter X.—Argument:  Whatever the Christians Worship, They Strive in Every Way to Conceal:  They Have No Altars, No Temples, No Acknowledged Images.  Their God, Like that of the Jews, is Said to Be One, Whom, Although They are Neither Able to See Nor to Show, They Think Nevertheless to Be Mischievous, Restless, and Unseasonably Inquisitive.

“I purposely pass over many things, for those that I have mentioned are already too many; and that all these, or the greater part of them, are true, the obscurity of their vile religion declares.  For why do they endeavour with such pains to conceal and to cloak whatever they worship, since honourable things always rejoice in publicity, while crimes are kept secret?  Why have they no altars, no temples, no acknowledged images?17431743    Otherwise, “no consecrated images.”  Why do they never speak openly, never congregate freely, unless for the reason that what they adore and conceal is either worthy of punishment, or something to be ashamed of?  Moreover, whence or who is he, or where is the one God, solitary, desolate, whom no free people, no kingdoms, and not even Roman superstition, have known?  The lonely and miserable nationality of the Jews worshipped one God, and one peculiar to itself; but they worshipped him openly, with temples, with altars, with victims, and with ceremonies; and he has so little force or power, that he is enslaved, with his own special nation, to the Roman deities.  But the Christians, moreover, what wonders, what monstrosities do they feign!—that he who is their God, whom they can neither show nor behold, inquires diligently into the character of all, the acts of all, and, in fine, into their words and secret thoughts; that he runs about everywhere, and is everywhere present:  they make him out to be troublesome, restless, even shamelessly inquisitive, since he is present at everything that is done, wanders in and out in all places, although, being occupied with the whole, he cannot give attention to particulars, nor can he be sufficient for the whole while he is busied with particulars.  What! because they threaten conflagration to the whole world, and to the universe itself, with all its stars, are they meditating its destruction?—as if either the eternal order constituted by the divine laws of nature would be disturbed, or the league of all the elements would be broken up, and the heavenly structure dissolved, and that fabric in which it is contained and bound together17441744    Otherwise, “we are contained and bound together.” would be overthrown.17451745    [These very accusations, reduced back to Christian language, show that much of the Creed was, in fact, known to the heathen at this period.]


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