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though he might make him material and not a spirit, and hold fast to the dreams of Democritus, Leucippus, and Protagoras, that excludedğa God, and substituted mere Chance in the formation of the world; or to that of Strato of Lampsacus who would have the world formed by a living and active but senseless nature, producing all forms and bodies according to some natural necessary order or law. The Stoic, after Heraclitus, would derive all things from God as a spiritual fire, while the admirers of Anaximenes would have God create all things from air; and the disciples of Thales made water, or watery slime, the matter of which all things were formed by that Deity, whom he named the eldest of beings and eternal. The Peripatetic would, indeed, have the world eternal, yet an eternal work of God, whom he made the most self-suff cient and self-happy of beings; while the whole universe, and all the higher gods, were but perpetual and eternal "productions or eradiations from God." The followers of Plato could find nothing to censure in the doctrine of a God infinitely transcendent and removed from created things, since their master would have it so, and made the world to be enlivened and ordered by a holy and spiritual nature.
The delicate irony of Socrates would still remain fresh in the minds of all, wherein he ridicules the popular notions concerning the worship of God, as if he needed aught from men. Nor were they ignorant of that remarkable expression in the author of the book De Coelo, commonly imputed to Aristotle, wherein the supreme God, and his most exalted ministers, are described as residing in a calm and mild region beyond all vacuum and time, inaccessible to change, or death, or any other accident of this perishable life, not confined to place, or modified by motion, but strong, calm, and passionless, and endued with the highest and most sellsufficient life, to last through all eternity.
For although they erected statues and sacrificed on altars to the supreme Deity from remote ages, yet was it universally understood that He was not like anything corporeal, and that he needed not any of such things as were offered in sacrifice. For heathenism consisted in the commixture of creature worship with the worship of God; or else in the deification of nature in its parts as manifestations of God in his works, and so parts of Him. For the former view, we have the current of heathen, Jewish, and Christian writers; as when we hear Maximus Tyrius, and Plato speak of the gods as co-reigners with God; or as Seneca in Lactantius affirms, that God generated the gods to be ministers of His kingdom, while He himself intended through the whole. Maimonides (in More Nevochim 1 : 36,) affirms that statues and images were designed to represent creatures who were mediators between men and God. Lactantius urges upon Hierocles the absurdity of assailing Christians for the worship of one God, that
he and all others among the heathen professed to hold as infinitely above all the inferior gods, saying, “You affirm that there be gods, and yet you subject and enslave them to that God whose religion you assay to destroy.
The latter view, that make the parts of the world to be honored as if they were parts of God and manifestations of Him, is contained in an epistle of Maximus Madamensis to St. Austin, wherein he says of God" His virtues diffused through the whole world (since we know not his proper name) we invoke by many names ; whence it comes to pass that while we prosecute as it were with various supplications his divided meinbers, severally, we are seen to worship the whole Deity. The Orphic verses teach the same; as when it is said Jove is the profundity of the earth and the starry heavens, the breath of all things, the force of unquenchable fire, the bottom of the sea, the sun, moon, and stars,” &c. Timotheus the chronographer in Cedrenus makes the Orphic theology to teach that by the divinity were all things made, and he is all things. And Plutarch, in his Defect of Oracles, blames the fanaticism of the Orphic school for this making all things out of God, according to the well known verse, “ Jove is the beginning and middle, and all things grow from God;" at the same time that he reproaches the Naturalists, such as Anaximander and the other Italics between Thales and Anaxagoras, with laying aside the divine agency in their theories of the world ; though it is possible he goes too far in relation to the Orphic cosmogony; since in another verse it is said “How can all things be one, and each distinct with a life of its own ?” For the Oriental Pantheism that makes the world a body to God, and himself the soul of the world, is of early date and universally received among the most ancient nations; though with most it differed but little from the Scriptural view of all things consisting in God, and quickened by him, and his being all in all; only that the heathen were used to deifying the creatures as manifestations of God's power and wisdom while the Scriptures reprove all this as fond and vain and contrary to all true reason and the divine laws.
Then he reminds his auditory that man is homogenous, and the nations are parted on the earth that each may find out for itself what is God from a diligent study of his works. Too many of us, in the full satiety of our own ignorance concerning things so remote from us, are apt to consider the apostle as uitering through his whole speech new truths before unknown to that polite and learned assembly; whereas this would have proved the certain ruin of his cause. And though it is pretended that the Athenians prided themselves upon springing from their own soil, and claimed as congeners the grasshoppers, still this is but a figurative and hieroglyphic way of denoting that they had resided in the same place through all the most remote ages, while others led a wandering
and unsettled life, or established themselves in cities and commonwealths at periods of time long after Cecrops led their fathers over the sea, and transferred Egyptian arts and sciences to the shores of the Ægean. Were there nothing else to show that in the opinion of the old world all men were of common origin, we shall find it asserted in the fact that the same universal Deity is honored in all nations, though by many names, and in many modes; or, as they sometimes expressed it, “ an agreeing discord.” Besides, it is well known that among the ancients it was universally held that a deluge had once swept away all mankind, except a single family, from whom, as their common head, all nations have sprung. We say nothing of that Grecian fable which originates all mankind from stones thrown by Deucalion and Pyrrha ; since it was of a piece with Cadmus and his sowing of dragon's teeth, and other hieroglyphics of the same sort, tra. duced from the Egyptians and Orientals, and expressed in words ; neither will it, if allowed, in the least degree affect the question ; as this, equally with all others, assigns to men a common origin. For though it may seem at first sight that the flood of Deucalion was confined, (and some say the same of the deluge of Ogyges) to a small portion of the earth's surface, yet all who have looked well into the matter are aware that all nations, in both hemispheres, have ever done the like, and treated the deluge of Noah as if it were partial and confined, each to their own country; only that the Hebrews have preserved its memorial as of universal extent over the earth. The floods of Deucalion and Ogyges are the same ; and both are identical with that of our sacred history; and from “such as escaped the deluge,” (Tú helgava róvrou) came all the race of mankind, while the family that escaped were the original gods of the early nations, whose number was eight, and of these the eldest were Saturn and Rhea. Thus in the Works and Days of Hesiod we have the gods and men alike generated or made from the same root or stock. And again : "the gods formed a golden age of men. That is, God formed the parents of our race, and these, afterwards raised to godhead, begat sons and daughters.
But the nations were divided (he affirms), that in their dispersion over the earth they might each in its own way search after God, and, though possessed of the sharpest wits and clearest intellects, yet they should never of themselves find him; though so near to us in his works; but he should remain to them through all ages an “ Unknown God;" because they had no direct revelation of him in words as the Hebrews had, but were left to cherish the truth learned of their fathers from the earliest times, and to find out as they might the Divine attributes and character from the works of nature. This also was no new view of nationality; for it was commonly understood that all tribes of men were separated
by God himself for purposes of his own, that in many ways, though with one spirit, the Deity should be honored in all parts of the earth. And though in after times the Athenians, and several other nations, enacted laws against importing new ceremonies and gods from abroad, yet this was only because of the immense number of gods honored by different nations, that were mere duplicates of each other infinitely repeated, and therefore the greater number would add nothing to such as were honored among any one people ; while each must have a separate service, and a separate altar, and so produce endless confusion in any state that should affect to receive them indiscriminately from abroad.
He then reminds them, how favorite a saying it had ever been among them, that men are the offspring of God. In this he is usually supposed to refer them to the Phaenomena" of Aratus ; though there is no need to enquire into this ; since he affirms nothing new or strange when in his introduction to the study of the heavenly bodies he says, “We all share the beneficence of Jove, for we are also his offspring, who kindly shows prosperous signs to men. Theon, the scholiast, says that " by Jove is here meant the Creator of the world,” or “the God who made all things.” In like manner Moschopulus understands Jove or the supreme God to be meant when in Hesiod (as above cited) it is said that "the Immortals made a golden age of men.” The example of Cleanthes will be at once recognized when he names the supreme Deity Jove, and says, “ It is becoming in all men to call thee for we are thine offspring, having alone the gift of speech.”
The conclusion is irresistible. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, it is not becoming to think of the Deity as resembled to images of gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.” In this Paul asserts what is self-evident and uni. versally acknowledged. The Stoic remembers how his favorite Heraclitus replied when Euthycles had accused him of impiety: " Is God shut up within the walls of temples ? Is this your piety to place God in the dark or to make him a stony God? O you unlearned ! know ye not that God is not made with hands, and hath not from the beginning any basis, nor can be confined by any wall; the whole world variously adorned with plants, animals, and stars being his temple ?” And again : “Is there no God without altars? are stones the witnesses of the gods? Let his own works be the witnesses of God, and chiefly the sun ; day and night bear him witness; the fruitful earth declares him ; the circle of his work, the moon, is a celestial witness of him.” The disciples of Plato and the Peripatetics are unable to dissent. For both these gloried in the acknowledgment of a spiritual and self-existent Deity not confined to time nor place; as their masters the Orientals before them had ever held God to be “the cause of generation and the whole course of nature and of all powers in the elements them
selves, separate, exempt, elevated above, and of himself, expanded over all the powers and elements of the world, since he is transcendent and above the world, immaterial and incorporeal, supernatural, unmade, indivisible, manifested wholly from himself and in himself, ruling over, and in himself containing all things.” (Iamblicus de Myster. Ægypt. 7, 2.) Among the lonics, Anaxagoras had said, “God is mingled with nothing but is alone by himself and separate.” Diogenes Sinopensis had been recorded in Laertius as publicly reproving one whom he found honoring a statue of some god with an unusual show of devotion, saying, " Beware of behaving unseemly in the sight of that God who stands behind you, for all things are full of him.” Nor can it be shown that that Jove to whom were consecrated the most noble statues and the old. est and costliest temples, was ever once held by the learned to be the same with what Pythagoras names “the Tetractys, or Tetrayammaton, that affords to our souls the fountain of Divine nature.” Since the Jove thus honored was an inferior and mediatorial Dei. ty, that the Egyptians named Ammon or Cham; the same that rebelled against his father Saturn, and usurped the government of the earth by violence, and when his own viperous and apostate progeny the giants, or Babel-builders, rose under Nimrod to set up the Chaldean Empire adverse to his own, requiting his filial impiety, at the same time that the Titians, or the families of Shem and Ja. pheth resisted his pretences and stood fast by their misused father, he launched against them the thunder of his excommunication, and condemned their whole crew to the torments of hell; as his envier in impiety toward God, the Pontiff of Rome, still fulminates interminable curses against all that refuse to acknowledge his pretence to sit in the temple of God, and as God upon earth to receive the homage due to God from all creatures, both “ in heaven and in the the earth, and the waters under the earth.”
For of the supreme God the heathen sages and wise men were accustomed to speak under the name of the “unknown darkness," "the illuminator, animator, and quickener of the universe, and the original of motion," "one single, solitary and most simple being, unmade and indestructible, existing necessarily of himself
, incorporeal and without magnitude, immutable, and of a duration not measured by the flow of time, but of a constant and fixed eternity without past or future ;” as Parmenides in Simplicius and Aristotle; and more of the same kind. Socrates, in Zenophen, says, “That God who framed and contains the whole world, ihough he be seen to do the greatest things yet is in himself unseen and invisible:” wherefore men should not despise invisible things but rather honor the Deity, taking notice of his power by his effects.” Plato says, “The Supreme Good is not itself essence but above essence, excelling the same at once in dignity and power. Aristotle, in his Metaphysics, speaks of God as “an incorporeal substance divided