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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:
The Incarnation of the Word.: Discredit, from the date of the Incarnation, of idol-cultus, oracles, mythologies, demoniacal energy, magic, and Gentile philosophy. And whereas the old cults were strictly local and independent, the worship of Christ is catholic and uniform.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

§46. Discredit, from the date of the Incarnation, of idol-cultus, oracles, mythologies, demoniacal energy, magic, and Gentile philosophy. And whereas the old cults were strictly local and independent, the worship of Christ is catholic and uniform.

When did men begin to desert the worshipping of idols, save since God, the true Word of God, has come among men? Or when have the oracles among the Greeks, and everywhere, ceased and become empty, save when the Saviour has manifested Himself upon earth? 2. Or when did those who are called gods and heroes in the poets begin to be convicted of being merely mortal men 329 , save since the Lord erected His conquest of death, and preserved incorruptible the body he had taken, raising it from the dead? 3. Or when did the deceitfulness and madness of demons fall into contempt, save when the power of God, the Word, the Master of all these as well, condescending because of man’s weakness, appeared on earth? Or when 330 did the art and the schools of magic begin to be trodden down, save when the divine manifestation of the Word took place among men? 4. And, in a word, at what time has the wisdom of the Greeks become foolish, save when the true Wisdom of God manifested itself on earth? For formerly the whole world p. 62 and every place was led astray by the worshipping of idols, and men regarded nothing else but the idols as gods. But now, all the world over, men are deserting the superstition of the idols, and taking refuge with Christ; and, worshipping Him as God, are by His means coming to know that Father also Whom they knew not. 5. And, marvellous fact, whereas the objects of worship were various and of vast number, and each place had its own idol, and he who was accounted a god among them had no power to pass over to the neighbouring place, so as to persuade those of neighbouring peoples to worship him, but was barely served even among his own people; for no one else worshipped his neighbour’s god—on the contrary, each man kept to his own idol 331 , thinking it to be lord of all;—Christ alone is worshipped as one and the same among all peoples; and what the weakness of the idols could not do—to persuade, namely, even those dwelling close at hand,—this Christ has done, persuading not only those close at hand, but simply the entire world, to worship one and the same Lord, and through Him God, even His Father.


Footnotes

61:329

Cf. notes on c. Gent. 10, and 12. 2.

61:330

On the following argument see Döllinger ii. 210 sqq., and Bigg, Bampt. Lect. 248, note 1.

62:331

On the local character of ancient religions, see Döllinger i. 109, &c., and Coulanges, La Cité Antique, Book III. ch. vi., and V. iii. (the substance in Barker’s Aryan Civilisation).


Next: The numerous oracles,--fancied apparitions in sacred places, &c., dispelled by the sign of the Cross. The old gods prove to have been mere men. Magic is exposed. And whereas Philosophy could only persuade select and local cliques of Immortality, and goodness,--men of little intellect have infused into the multitudes of the churches the principle of a supernatural life.

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