Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
ATHENAGORAS: Chapter XIII.—Why the Christians Do Not Offer Sacrifices.
Chapter XIII.—Why the Christians Do Not Offer Sacrifices.
But, as most of those who charge us with atheism, and that because they have not even the dreamiest conception of what God is, and are doltish and utterly unacquainted with natural and divine things, and such as measure piety by the rule of sacrifices, charges us with not acknowledging the same gods as the cities, be pleased to attend to the following considerations, O emperors, on both points. And first, as to our not sacrificing: the Framer and Father of p. 135 this universe does not need blood, nor the odour of burnt-offerings, nor the fragrance of flowers and incense, 737 forasmuch as He is Himself perfect fragrance, needing nothing either within or without; but the noblest sacrifice 738 to Him is for us to know who stretched out and vaulted the heavens, and fixed the earth in its place like a centre, who gathered the water into seas and divided the light from the darkness, who adorned the sky with stars and made the earth to bring forth seed of every kind, who made animals and fashioned man. When, holding God to be this Framer of all things, who preserves them in being and superintends them all by knowledge and administrative skill, we “lift up holy hands” to Him, what need has He further of a hecatomb?“For they, when mortals have transgressd or faild
To do aright, by sacrifice and prayr,
Libations and burnt-offerings, may be soothed.” 739
And what have I to do with holocausts, which God does not stand in need of?—though indeed it does behove us to offer a bloodless sacrifice and “the service of our reason.” 740
[Harmless as flowers and incense may be, the Fathers disown them in this way continually.]135:738
[This brilliant condensation of the Benedicite (Song of the Three Children) affords Kaye occasion to observe that our author is silent as to the sacraments. p. 195.]135:739
Hom., Il., ix. 499 sq., Lord Derbys translation, which version the translator has for the most part used.135:740
Comp. Rom. xii. 1. [Mal. i.11. “A pure Mincha” (Lev. ii. 1) was the unbloody sacrifice of the Jews. This was to be the Christian oblation: hence to offering of Christs natural blood, as the Latins now teach, was unknown to Athenagoras.]
Next: Chapter XIV.—Inconsistency of Those Who Accuse the Christians.
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