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ANF07. Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries: Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Homily
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Sec. II.—All Association with Idols is to Be Avoided.

A Moral Admonition, that We are to Abstain from Vain Talking, Obscene Talking, Jesting, Drunkenness, Lasciviousness, and Luxury.

X. Now we exhort you, brethren and fellow-servants, to avoid vain talk and obscene discourses, and jestings, drunkenness, lasciviousness, luxury, unbounded passions, with foolish discourses, since we do not permit you so much as on the Lord’s days, which are days of joy, to speak or act anything unseemly; for the Scripture somewhere says: “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice unto Him with trembling.”30423042     Ps. ii. 11.   Even your very rejoicings therefore ought to be done with fear and trembling: for a Christian who is faithful ought neither to repeat an heathen hymn nor an obscene song, because he will be obliged by that hymn to make mention of the idolatrous names of demons; and instead of the Holy Spirit, the wicked one will enter into him.  

An Admonition Instructing Men to Avoid the Abominable Sin of Idolatry.

XI. You are also forbidden to swear by them, or to utter their abominable names through your mouth, and to worship them, or fear them as gods; for they are not gods, but either wicked demons or the ridiculous contrivances of men. For somewhere God says concerning the Israelites: “They have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods.”30433043     Jer. v. 7.   And afterwards: “I will take away the names of your idols out of their mouth.”30443044     Zech. xiii. 2.   And elsewhere: “They have provoked me to jealousy with them that are no gods; they have provoked me to anger with their idols.”30453045     Deut. xxxii. 21   And in all the Scriptures these things are forbidden by the Lord God.  

That We Ought Not to Sing an Heathen or an Obscene Song, Nor to Swear by an Idol; Because It is an Impious Thing, and Contrary to the Knowledge of God.

XII. Nor do the legislators give us only prohibitions concerning idols, but also warn us concerning the luminaries, not to swear by them, nor to serve them. For they say: “Lest, when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, thou shouldest be seduced to worship them.”30463046     Deut. iv. 19   And elsewhere: “Do not ye learn to walk after the ways of the heathen, and be not afraid of the signs of heaven.”30473047     Jer. x. 2   For the stars and the luminaries were given to men to shine upon them, but not for worship; although the Israelites, by the perverseness of their temper, “worshipped the creature instead of the Creator,”30483048     Rom. i. 25   and acted insultingly to their Maker, and admired the creature more than is fit. And sometimes they made a calf, as in the wilderness;30493049     Ex. xxxii. 4   sometimes they worshipped Baalpeor;30503050     Num. xxv. 3   another time Baal,30513051     Judg. ii. 13   and Thamuz,30523052     Ezek. viii. 14.   and Astarte of Sidon;30533053     1 Kings xi. 5.   and again Moloch and Chamos;30543054     1 Kings xi. 7.   another time the sun,30553055     Ezek. viii. 16.   as it is written in Ezekiel; nay, and besides, brute creatures, as among the Egyptians Apis, and the Mendesian goat, and gods of silver and gold, as in Judea. On account of all which things He threatened them, and said by the prophet: “Is it a small thing to the house of Judah to do these abominations which they have done? For they have filled the land with their wickedness, to provoke me to anger: and, behold, they are as those that mock. And I will act with anger. Mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have mercy; and they shall cry in mine ears with a great voice, and I will not hearken unto them.”30563056     Ezek. viii. 17, 18.   Consider, beloved, how many things the Lord declares against idolaters, and the worshippers of the sun and moon. Wherefore it is the duty of a man of God, as he is a Christian, not to swear by the sun, or by the moon, or by the stars; nor by the heaven, nor by the earth, by any of the elements, whether small or great. For if our Master charged us not to swear by the true God, that our word might be firmer than an oath, nor by heaven itself, for that is a piece of heathen wickedness, nor by Jerusalem, nor by the sanctuary of God, nor the altar, nor the gift, nor the gilding of the altar, nor one’s own head,30573057     Matt. v. 34, xxiii. 16.   for this custom is a piece of Judaic corruption, and on that account was forbidden; and if He exhorts the faithful that their yea be yea, and their nay, nay, and says that “what is more than these is of the evil one,” how much more blameable are those who appeal to deities falsely so called as the objects of an oath, and who glorify imaginary beings instead of those that are real, whom God for their perverseness “delivered over to foolishness, to do those things that are not convenient!”30583058     Rom. i. 28.    


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