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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VII:
Lactantius: Chap. LVIII.—Of the true worship of God, and sacrifice

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chap. LVIII.—Of the True Worship of God, and Sacrifice.

I have spoken of justice, what was its nature. It follows that I show what is true sacrifice to God, what is the most just manner of worshipping Him, lest any one should think that victims, or odours, or precious gifts, are desired by God, who, if He is not subject to hunger, and thirst, and cold, and desire of all earthly things, does not therefore make use of all these things which are presented in temples and to gods of earth; but as corporeal offerings are necessary for corporeal beings, so manifestly an incorporeal sacrifice is necessary for an incorporeal being. But God has no need of those things which He has given to man for his use, since all the earth is under His power: He needs not a temple, since the world is His dwelling; He needs not an image, since He is incomprehensible both to the eyes and to the mind; He needs not earthly lights, for He was able to kindle the light of the sun, with the other stars, for the use of man. What then does God require from man but worship of the mind, which is pure and holy? For those things which are made by the hands, or are outside of man, are senseless, frail, and displeasing. This is true sacrifice, which is brought forth not from the chest but from the heart; not that which is offered by the hand, but by the mind. This is the acceptable victim, which the mind sacrifices of itself. For what do victims bestow? What does incense? What do garments? What does silver? What gold? What precious stones,—if there is not a pure mind on the part of the worshipper? Therefore it is justice only which God requires. In this is sacrifice; in this the worship of God, respecting which I must now speak, and show in what works justice must necessarily be contained.  

Next: Chap. LIX.—Of the ways of life, and the first times of the world

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