On Idolatry - Tertullian
Translated by the Rev. S. Thelwall.
Text edited by Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson and
first published by T&T Clark in Edinburgh in 1867. Additional
introductionary material and notes provided for the American
edition by A. Cleveland Coxe, 1886.
Chapter I.-Wide Scope of the Word Idolatry.
The principal crime of the human race, the highest guilt charged upon the
world, the whole procuring cause of judgment, is idolatry.  For,
although each single fault retains its own proper feature, although it is
destined to judgment under its own proper name also, yet it is marked off
under the general account of idolatry. Set aside names, examine works, the
idolater is likewise a murderer. Do you inquire whom he has slain? If it
contributes ought to the aggravation of the indictment, no stranger nor
personal enemy, but his own self. By what snares? Those of his error. By
what weapon? The offence done to God. By how many blows? As many as are his
idolatries. He who affirms that the idolater perishes not,  will affirm
that the idolater has not committed murder. Further, you may recognize in
the same crime  adultery and fornication; for he who serves false gods
is doubtless an adulterer  of truth, because all falsehood is adultery.
So, too, he is sunk in fornication. For who that is a fellow-worker with
unclean spirits, does not stalk in general pollution and fornication? And
thus it is that the Holy Scriptures  use the designation of fornication
in their upbraiding of idolatry. The essence of fraud, I take it, is, that
any should seize what is another's, or refuse to another his due; and, of
course, fraud done toward man is a name of greatest crime. Well, but
idolatry does fraud to God, by refusing to Him, and conferring on others,
His honours; so that to fraud it also conjoins contumely. But if fraud, just
as much as fornication and adultery, entails death, then, in these cases,
equally with the former, idolatry stands unacquitted of the impeachment of
murder. After such crimes, so pernicious, so devouring of salvation, all
other crimes also, after some manner, and separately disposed in order, find
their own essence represented in idolatry. In it also are the cancupiscences
of the world. For what solemnity of idolatry is without the circumstance of
dress and ornament? In it are lasciviousnesses and drunkennesses; since it
is, for the most part, for the sake of food, and stomach, and appetite, that
these solemnities are frequented. In it is unrighteousness. For what more
unrighteous than it, which knows not the Father of righteousness? In it also
is vanity, since its whole system is vain. In it is mendacity, for its whole
substance is false. Thus it comes to pass, that in idolatry all crimes are
detected, and in all crimes idolatry. Even otherwise, since all faults
savour of opposition to God, and there is nothing which savours of
opposition to God which is not assigned to demons and unclean spirits, whose
property idols are; doubtless, whoever commits a fault is chargeable with
idolatry, for he does that which pertains to the proprietors of idols.
Chapter II. Idolatry in Its More Limited Sense. Its Copiousness.
But let the universal names of crimes withdraw to the specialities of their
own works; let idolatry remain in that which it is itself. Sufficient to
itself is a name so inimical to God, a substance of crime so copious, which
reaches forth so many branches, diffuses so many veins, that from this name,
for the greatest part, is drawn the material of all the modes in which the
expansiveness of idolatry has to be foreguarded against by us, since in
manifold wise it subverts the servants of God; and this not only when
unperceived, but also when cloaked over. Most men simply regard idolatry as
to be interpreted in these senses alone, viz.: if one burn incense, or
immolate a victim, or give a sacrificial banquet, or be bound to some sacred
functions or priesthoods; just as if one were to regard adultery as to be
accounted in kisses, and in embraces, and in actual fleshly contact; or
murder as to be reckoned only in the shedding forth of blood, and in the
actual taking away of life. But how far wider an extent the Lord assigns to
those crimes we are sure: when He defines adultery to consist even in
concupiscence,  "if one shall have cast an eye lustfully on," and
stirred his soul with immodest commotion; when He judges murder  to
consist even in a word of curse or of reproach, and in every impulse of
anger, and in the neglect of charity toward a brother just as John teaches,
 that he who hates his brother is a murderer. Else, both the devil's
ingenuity in malice, and God the Lord's in the Discipline by which He
fortifies us against the devil's depths,  would have but limited scope,
if we were judged only in such faults as even the heathen nations have
decreed punishable. How will our "righteousness abound above that of the
Scribes and Pharisees," as the Lord has prescribed,  unless we shall
have seen through the abundance of that adversary quality, that is, of
unrighteousness? But if the head of unrighteousness is idolatry, the first
point is, that we be fore-fortified against the abundance of idolatry, while
we recognise it not only in its palpable manifestations.
Chapter III. Idolatry: Origin and Meaning of the Name.
Idol in ancient times there was none. Before the artificers of this
monstrosity had bubbled into being,  temples stood solitary and
shrines empty, just as to the present day in some places traces of the
ancient practice remain permanently. Yet idolatry used to be practised, not
under that name, but in that function; for even at this day it can be
practised outside a temple, and without an idol. But when the devil
introduced into the world artificers of statues and of images, and of every
kind of likenesses, that former rude business of human disaster attained
from idols both a name and a development. Thenceforward every art which in
any way produces an idol instantly became a fount of idolatry. For it makes
no difference whether a moulder cast, or a carver grave, or an embroiderer
weave the idol; because neither is it a question of material, whether an
idol be formed of gypsum, or of colors, or of stone, or of bronze, 
or of silver, or of thread. For since even without an idol idolatry is
committed, when the idol is there it makes no difference of what kind it be,
of what material, or what shape; lest any should think that only to be held
an idol which is consecrated in human shape. To establish this point, the
interpretation of the word is requisite. Eidoßs, in Greek, signifies form;
eidoÆloßn, derived diminutively from that, by an equivalent process in our
language, makes formling.  Every form or forming, therefore, claims
to be called an idol. Hence idolatry is "all attendance and service about
every idol." Hence also, every artificer of an idol is guilty of one and the
same crime,  unless, the People  which consecrated for itself
the likeness of a calf, and not of a man, fell short of incurring the guilt
of idolatry. 
Chapter IV. Idols Not to Be Made, Much Less Worshipped. Idols and
Idol-Makers in the Same Category.
God prohibits an idol as much to be made as to be worshipped. In so far as
the making what may be worshipped is the prior act, so far is the
prohibition to make (if the worship is unlawful) the prior prohibition. For
this cause'the eradicating, namely, of the material of idolatry'the divine
law proclaims, "Thou shall make no idol; "  and by conjoining, "Nor a
similitude of the things which are in the heaven, and which are in the
earth, and which are in the sea," has interdicted the servants of God from
acts of that kind all the universe over. Enoch had preceded, predicting that
"the demons, and the spirits of the angelic apostates,  would turn
into idolatry all the elements, all the garniture of the universe, all
things contained in the heaven, in the sea, in the earth, that they might be
consecrated as God, in opposition to God." All things, therefore, does human
error worship, except the Founder of all Himself. The images of those things
are idols; the consecration of the images is idolatry. Whatever guilt
idolatry incurs, must necessarily be imputed to every artificer of every
idol. In short, the same Enoch fore-condemns in general menace both
idol-worshippers and idol-makers together. And again: "I swear to you,
sinners, that against the day of perdition of blood  repentance is
being prepared. Ye who serve stones, and ye who make images of gold, and
silver, and wood, and stones and clay, and serve phantoms, and demons, and
spirits in fanes,  and all errors not according to knowledge, shall
find no help from them." But Isaiah  says, "Ye are witnesses whether
there is a God except Me." "And they who mould and carve out at that time
were not: all vain! who do that which liketh them, which shall not profit
them!" And that whole ensuing discourse sets a ban as well on the artificers
as the worshippers: the close of which is, "Learn that their heart is ashes
and earth, and that none can free his own soul." In which sentence David
equally includes the makers too. "Such," says he, "let them become who make
them."  And why should I, a man of limited memory, suggest anything
further? Why recall anything more from the Scriptures? As if either the
voice of the Holy Spirit were not sufficient; or else any further
deliberation were needful, whether the Lord cursed and condemned by priority
the artificers of those things, of which He curses and condemns the
Chapter V.  'Sundry Objections or Excuses Dealt with.
We will certainly take more pains in answering the excuses of artificers of
this kind, who ought never to be admitted into the house of God, if any have
a knowledge of that Discipline.  To begin with, that speech, wont to
be cast in our teeth, "I have nothing else whereby to live," may be more
severely retorted, "You have, then, whereby to live? If by your own laws,
what have you to do with God? "  Then, as to the argument they have
the hardihood to bring even from the Scriptures, "that the apostle has said,
'As each has been found, so let him persevere.'"  We may all,
therefore, persevere in sins, as the result of that interpretation! for
there is not any one of us who has not been found asa sinner, since no other
cause was the source of Christ's descent than that of setting sinners free.
Again, they say the same apostle has left a precept, according to his own
example, "That each one work with his own hands for a living."  If
this precept is maintained in respect to all hands, I believe even the
bath-thieves  live by their hands, and robbers themselves gain the
means to live by their hands; forgers, again, execute their evil
handwritings, not of course with their feet, but hands; actors, however,
achieve a livelihood not with hands alone, but with their entire limbs. Let
the Church, therefore, stand open to all who are supported by their hands
and by their own work; if there is no exception of arts which the Discipline
of God receives not. But some one says, in opposition to our proposition of
"similitude being interdicted," "Why, then, did Moses in the desert make a
likeness of a serpent out of bronze? "The figures, which used to be laid as
a groundwork for some secret future dispensation, not with a view to the
repeal of the law, but as a type of their own final cause, stand in a class
by themselves. Otherwise, if we should interpret these things as the
adversaries of the law do, do we, too, as the Marcionites do, ascribe
inconsistency to the Almighty, whom they  in this manner destroy as
being mutable, while in one place He forbids, in another commands? But if
any feigns ignorance of the fact that that effigy of the serpent of bronze,
after the manner of one uphung, denoted the shape of the Lord's cross,
 which was to free us from serpents'that is, from the devil's
angels'while, through itself, it hanged up the devil slain; or whatever
other exposition of that figure has been revealed to worthless men 
no matter, provided we remember the apostle affirms that all things happened
at that time to the People  figuratively.  It is enough that
the same God, as by law He forbade the making of similitude, did, by the
extraordinary precept in the case of the serpent, interdict similitude.
 If you reverence the same God, you have His law, "Thou shall make no
similitude."  If you look back, too, to the precept enjoining the
subsequently made similitude, do you, too, imitate Moses: make not any
likeness in opposition to the law, unless to you, too, God have bidden it.
Chapter VI. Idolatry Condemned by Baptism. To Make an Idol Is, in Fact, to
If no law of God had prohibited idols to be made by us; if no voice of the
Holy Spirit uttered general menace no less against the makers than the
worshippers of idols; from our sacrament itself we would draw our
interpretation that arts of that kind are opposed to the faith. For how have
we renounced the devil and his angels, if we make them? What divorce have we
declared from them, I say not with whom, but dependent on whom, we live?
What discord have we entered into with those to whom we are under obligation
for the sake of our maintenance? Can you have denied with the tongue what
with the hand you confess? unmake by word what by deed you make? preach one
God, you who make so many? preach the true God, you who make false ones? "I
make," says one, "but I worship not; "as if there were some cause for which
he dare not worship, besides that for which he ought not also to make,'the
offence done to God, namely, in either case. Nay, you who make, that they
may be able to be worshipped, do worship; and you worship, not with the
spirit of some worthless perfume, but with your own; nor at the expense of a
beast's soul, but of your own. To them you immolate your ingenuity; to them
you make your sweat a libation; to them you kindle the torch of your
forethought. More are you to them than a priest, since it is by your means
they have a priest; your diligence is their divinity.  Do you affirm
that you worship not what you make? Ah! but they affirm not so, to whom you
slay this fatter, more precious and greater victim, your salvation.
Chapter VII. Grief of the Faithful at the Admission of Idol-Makers into the
Church; Nay, Even into the Ministry.
A whole day the zeal of faith will direct its pleadings to this quarter:
bewailing that a Christian should come from idols into the Church; should
come from an adversary workshop into the house of God; should raise to God
the Father hands which are the mothers of idols; should pray to God with the
hands which, out of doors, are prayed to in opposition to God; should apply
to the Lord's body those hands which confer bodies on demons. Nor is this
sufficient. Grant that it be a small matter, if from other hands they
receive what they contaminate; but even those very hands deliver to others
what they have contaminated. Idol-artificers are chosen even into the
ecclesiastical order. Oh wickedness! Once did the Jews lay brands on Christ;
these mangle His body daily. Oh hands to be cut off! Now let the saying, "If
thy hand make thee do evil, amputate it,"  see to it whether it were
uttered by way of similitude merely. What hands more to be amputated than
those in which scandal is done to the Lord's body?
Chapter VIII. Other Arts Made Subservient to Idolatry. Lawful Means of
Gaining a Livelihood Abundant.
There are also other species of very many arts which, although they extend
not to the making of idols, yet, with the same criminality, furnish the
adjuncts without which idols have no power. For it matters not whether you
erect or equip: if you have embellished his temple, altar, or niche; if you
have pressed out gold-leaf, or have wrought his insignia, or even his house:
work of that kind, which confers not shape, but authority, is more
important. If the necessity of maintenance  is urged so much, the
arts have other species withal to afford means of livelihood, without
outstepping the path of discipline, that is, without the confiction of an
idol. The plasterer knows both how to mend roofs, and lay on stuccoes, and
polish a cistern, and trace ogives, and draw in relief on party-walls many
other ornaments beside likenesses. The painter, too, the marble mason, the
bronze-worker, and every graver whatever, knows expansions  of his
own art, of course much easier of execution. For how much more easily does
he who delineates a statue overlay a sideboard!  How much sooner does
he who carves a Mars out of a lime-tree, fasten together a chest! No art but
is either mother or kinswoman of some neighbour  art: nothing is
independent of its neighbour. The veins of the arts are many as are the
concupiscences of men. "But there is difference in wages and the rewards of
handicraft; "therefore there is difference, too, in the labour required.
Smaller wages are compensated by more frequent earning. How many are the
party-walls which require statues? How many the temples and shrines which
are built for idols? But houses, and official residences, and baths, and
tenements, how many are they? Shoe- and slipper-gilding is daily work not so
the gilding of Mercury and Serapis. Let that suffice for the gain  of
handicrafts. Luxury and ostentation have more votaries than all
superstition. Ostentation will require dishes and cups more easily than
superstition. Luxury deals in wreaths, also, more than ceremony. When,
therefore, we urge men generally to such kinds of handicrafts as do not come
in contact with an idol indeed and with the things which are appropriate to
an idol; since, moreover, the things which are common to idols are often
common to men too; of this also we ought to beware that nothing be, with our
knowledge, demanded by any person from our idols' service. For if we shall
have made that concession, and shall not have had recourse to the remedies
so often used, I think we are not free of the contagion of idolatry, we
whose (not unwitting) hands  are found busied in the tendence, or in
the honour and service, of demons.
Chapter IX. Professions of Some Kinds Allied to Idolatry. Of Astrology in
We observe among the arts  also some professions liable to the charge
of idolatry. Of astrologers there should be no speaking even;  but
since one in these days has challenged us, defending on his own behalf
perseverance in that profession, I will use a few words. I allege not that
he honours idols, whose names he has inscribed on the heaven,  to
whom he has attributed all God's power; because men, presuming that we are
disposed of by the immutable arbitrament of the stars, think on that account
that God is not to be sought after. One proposition I lay down: that those
angels, the deserters from God, the lovers of women,  were likewise
the discoverers of this curious art, on that account also condemned by God.
Oh divine sentence, reaching even unto the earth in its vigour, whereto the
unwitting render testimony! The astrologers are expelled just like their
angels. The city and Italy are interdicted to the astrologers, just as
heaven to their angels.  There is the same penalty of exclusion for
disciples and masters. "But Magi and astrologers came from the east."
 We know the mutual alliance of magic and astrology. The interpreters
of the stars, then, were the first to announce Christ's birth the first to
present Him "gifts." By this bond, [must] I imagine, they put Christ under
obligation to themselves? What then? Shall therefore the religion of those
Magi act as patron now also to astrologers? Astrology now-a-days, forsooth,
treats of Christ'is the science of the stars of Christ; not of Saturn, or
Mars, and whomsoever else out of the same class of the dead  it pays
observance to and preaches? But, however, that science has been allowed
until the Gospel, in order that after Christ's birth no one should thence
forward interpret any one's nativity by the heaven. For they therefore
offered to the then infant Lord that frankincense and myrrh and gold, to be,
as it were, the close of worldly  sacrifice and glory, which Christ
was about to do away. What, then? The dream'sent, doubtless, of the will of
God'suggested to the same Magi, namely, that they should go home, but by
another way, not that by which they came. It means this: that they should
not walk in their ancient path.  Not that Herod should not pursue
them, who in fact did not pursue them; unwitting even that they had departed
by another way, since be was withal unwitting by what way they came. Just so
we ought to understand by it the right Way and Discipline. And so the
precept was rather, that thence forward they should walk otherwise. So, too,
that other species of magic which operates by miracles, emulous even in
opposition to Moses,  tried God's patience until the Gospel. For
thenceforward Simon Magus, just turned believer, (since he was still
thinking somewhat of his juggling sect; to wit, that among the miracles of
his profession he might buy even the gift of the Holy Spirit through
imposition of hands) was cursed by the apostles, and ejected from the
faith.  Both he and that other magician, who was with Sergius Paulus,
(since he began opposing himself to the same apostles) was mulcted with loss
of eyes.  The same fate, I believe, would astrologers, too, have met,
if any had fallen in the way of the apostles. But yet, when magic is
punished, of which astrology is a species, of course the species is
condemned in the genus. After the Gospel, you will nowhere find either
sophists, Chaldeans, enchanters, diviners, or magicians, except as clearly
punished. "Where is the wise, where the grammarian, where the disputer of
this age? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this age? "  You
know nothing, astrologer, if you know not that you should be a Christian. If
you did know it, you ought to have known this also, that you should have
nothing more to do with that profession of yours which, of itself,
fore-chants the climacterics of others, and might instruct you of its own
danger. There is no part nor lot for you in that system of yours.  He
cannot hope for the kingdom of the heavens, whose finger or wand abuses
 the heaven.
Chapter X. Of Schoolmasters and Their Difficulties.
Moreover, we must inquire likewise touching schoolmasters; nor only of them,
but also all other professors of literature. Nay, on the contrary, we must
not doubt that they are in affinity with manifold idolatry: first, in that
it is necessary for them to preach the gods of the nations, to express their
names, genealogies, honourable distinctions, all and singular; and further,
to observe the solemnities and festivals of the same, as of them by whose
means they compute their revenues. What schoolmaster, without a table of the
seven idols,  will yet frequent the Quinquatria? The very first
payment of every pupil he consecrates both to the honour and to the name of
Minerva; so that, even though he be not said "to eat of that which is
sacrificed to idols"  nominally (not being dedicated to any
particular idol), he is shunned as an idolater. What less of defilement does
he recur on that ground,  than a business brings which, both
nominally and virtually, is consecrated publicly to an idol? The Minervalia
are as much Minerva's, as the Saturnalia Saturn's; Saturn's, which must
necessarily be celebrated even by little slaves at the time of the
Saturnalia. New-year's gifts likewise must be caught at, and the
Septimontium kept; and all the presents of Midwinter and the feast of Dear
Kinsmanship must be exacted; the schools must be wreathed with flowers; the
flamens' wives and the ædiles sacrifice; the school is honoured on the
appointed holy-days. The same thing takes place on an idol's birthday; every
pomp of the devil is frequented. Who will think that these things are
befitting to a Christian master,  unless it be he who shall think
them suitable likewise to one who is not a master? We know it may be said,
"If teaching literature is not lawful to God's servants, neither will
learning be likewise; "and, "How could one be trained unto ordinary human
intelligence, or unto any sense or action whatever, since literature is the
means of training for all life? How do we repudiate secular studies, without
which divine studies cannot be pursued? "Let us see, then, the necessity of
literary erudition; let us reflect that partly it cannot be admitted, partly
cannot be avoided. Learning literature is allowable for believers, rather
than teaching; for the principle of learning and of teaching is different.
If a believer teach literature, while he is teaching doubtless he commends,
while he delivers he affirms, while he recalls he bears testimony to, the
praises of idols interspersed therein. He seals the gods themselves with
this name;  whereas the Law, as we have said, prohibits "the names of
gods to be pronounced,"  and this name  to be conferred on
vanity.  Hence the devil gets men's early faith built up from the
beginnings of their erudition. Inquire whether he who catechizes about idols
commit idolatry. But when a believer learns these things, if he is already
capable of understanding what idolatry is, he neither receives nor allows
them; much more if he is not yet capable. Or, when he begins to understand,
it behoves him first to understand what he has previously learned, that is,
touching God and the faith. Therefore he will reject those things, and will
not receive them; and will be as safe as one who from one who knows it not,
knowingly accepts poison, but does not drink it. To him necessity is
attributed as an excuse, because he has no other way to learn. Moreover, the
not teaching literature is as much easier than the not learning, as it is
easier, too, for the pupil not to attend, than for the master not to
frequent, the rest of the defilements incident to the schools from public
and scholastic solemnities.
Chapter XI. Connection Between Covetousness and Idolatry. Certain Trades,
However Gainful, to Be Avoided.
If we think over the rest of faults, tracing them from their generations,
let us begin with covetousness, "a root of all evils,"  wherewith,
indeed, some having been ensnared, "have suffered shipwreck about faith."
 Albeit covetousness is by the same apostle called idolatry.  In
the next place proceeding to mendacity, the minister of covetousness (of
false swearing I am silent, since even swearing is not lawful  )'is
trade adapted for a servant of God? But, covetousness apart, what is the
motive for acquiring? When the motive for acquiring ceases, there will be no
necessity for trading. Grant now that there be some righteousness in
business, secure from the duty of watchfulness against covetousness and
mendacity; I take it that that trade which pertains to the very soul and
spirit of idols, which pampers every demon, falls under the charge of
idolatry. Rather, is not that the principal idolatry? If the selfsame
merchandises'frankincense, I mean, and all other foreign productions'used as
sacrifice to idols, are of use likewise to men for medicinal ointments, to
us Christians also, over and above, for solaces of sepulture, let them see
to it. At all events, while the pomps, while the priesthoods, while the
sacrifices of idols, are furnished by dangers, by losses, by inconveniences,
by cogitations, by runnings to and fro, or trades, what else are you
demonstrated to be but an idols' agent? Let none contend that, in this way,
exception may be taken to all trades. All graver faults extend the sphere
for diligence in watchfulness proportionably to the magnitude of the danger;
in order that we may withdraw not only from the faults, but from the means
through which they have being. For although the fault be done by others, it
makes no difference if it be by my means. In no case ought I to be necessary
to another, while he is doing what to me is unlawful. Hence I ought to
understand that care must be taken by me, lest what I am forbidden to do be
done by my means. In short, in another cause of no lighter guilt I observe
that fore-judgment. In that I am interdicted from fornication, I furnish
nothing of help or connivance to others for that purpose; in that I have
separated my own flesh itself from stews, I acknowledge that I cannot
exercise the trade of pandering, or keep that kind of places for my
neighbour's behoof. So, too, the interdiction of murder shows me that a
trainer of gladiators also is excluded from the Church; nor will any one
fail to be the means of doing what he subministers to another to do. Behold,
here is a more kindred fore-judgment: if a purveyor of the public victims
come over to the faith, will you permit him to remain permanently in that
trade? or if one who is already a believer shall have undertaken that
business, will you think that he is to be retained in the Church? No, I take
it; unless any one will dissemble in the case of a frankincense-seller too.
In sooth, the agency of blood pertains to some, that of odours to others.
If, before idols were in the world, idolatry, hitherto shapeless, used to be
transacted by these wares; if, even now, the work of idolatry is
perpetrated, for the most part, without the idol, by burnings of odours; the
frankincense-seller is a something even more serviceable even toward demons,
for idolatry is more easily carried on without the idol, than without the
ware of the frankincense-seller.  Let us interrogate thoroughly the
conscience of the faith itself. With what mouth will a Christian
frankincense-seller, if he shall pass through temples, with what mouth will
he spit down upon and blow out the smoking altars, for which himself has
made provision? With what consistency will he exorcise his own
foster-children,  to whom he affords his own house as store-room?
Indeed, if he shall have ejected a demon,  let him not congratulate
himself on his faith, for he has not ejected an enemy; he ought to have had
his prayer easily granted by one whom he is daily feeding.  No art,
then, no profession, no trade, which administers either to equipping or
forming idols, can be free from the title of idolatry; unless we interpret
idolatry to be altogether something else than the service of idol-tendence.
Chapter XII. Further Answers to the Plea, How Am I to Live?
In vain do we flatter ourselves as to the necessities of human maintenance,
if'after faith sealed  'we say, "I have no means to live? " 
For here I will now answer more fully that abrupt proposition. It is
advanced too late. For after the similitude of that most prudent builder,
 who first computes the costs of the work, together with his own means,
lest, when he has begun, he afterwards blush to find himself spent,
deliberation should have been made before. But even now you have the Lord's
sayings, as examples taking away from you all excuse. For what is it you
say? "I shall be in need." But the Lord calls the needy "happy."  "I
shall have no food." But "think not," says He, "about food; "  and as
an example of clothing we have the lilies.  "My work was my
subsistence." Nay, but "all things are to be sold, and divided to the
needy."  "But provision must be made for children and posterity."
"None, putting his hand on the plough, and looking back, is fit" for work.
 "But I was under contract." "None can serve two lords."  If you
wish to be the Lord's disciple, it is necessary you "take your cross, and
follow the Lord: "  your cross; that is, your own straits and
tortures, or your body only, which is after the manner of a cross. Parents,
wives, children, will have to be left behind, for God's sake.  Do you
hesitate about arts, and trades, and about professions likewise, for the
sake of children and parents? Even there was it demonstrated to us, that
both "dear pledges,"  and handicrafts, and trades, are to be quite
left behind for the Lord's sake; while James and John, called by the Lord,
do leave quite behind both father and ship;  while Matthew is roused
up from the toll-booth;  while even burying a father was too tardy a
business for faith.  None of them whom the Lord chose to Him said,
"I have no means to live." Faith fears not famine. It knows, likewise, that
hunger is no less to be contemned by it for God's sake, than every kind of
death. It has learnt not to respect life; how much more food? [You ask] "How
many have fulfilled these conditions? "But what with men is difficult, with
God is easy.  Let us, however, comfort ourselves about the gentleness
and clemency of God in such wise, as not to indulge our "necessities" up to
the point of affinities with idolatry, but to avoid even from afar every
breath of it, as of a pestilence. [And this] not merely in the cases
forementioned, but in the universal series of human superstition; whether
appropriated to its gods, or to the defunct, or to kings, as pertaining to
the selfsame unclean spirits, sometimes through sacrifices and priesthoods,
sometimes through spectacles and the like, sometimes through holy-days.
Chapter XIII. Of the Observance of Days Connected with Idolatry.
But why speak of sacrifices and priesthoods? Of spectacles, moreover, and
pleasures of that kind, we have already filled a volume of their own.
 In this place must be handled the subject of holidays and other
extraordinary solemnities, which we accord sometimes to our wantonness,
sometimes to our timidity, in opposition to the common faith and Discipline.
The first point, indeed, on which I shall join issue is this: whether a
servant of God ought to share with the very nations themselves in matters of
his kind either in dress, or in food, or in any other kind of their
gladness. "To rejoice with the rejoicing, and grieve with the grieving,"
 is said.about brethren by the apostle when exhorting to unanimity.
But, for these purposes, "There is nought of communion between light and
darkness,"  between life and death or else we rescind what is
written, "The world shall rejoice, but ye shall grieve."  If we
rejoice with the world, there is reason to fear that with the world we shall
grieve too. But when the world rejoices, let us grieve; and when the world
afterward grieves, we shall rejoice. Thus, too, Eleazar  in Hades,
 (attaining refreshment in Abraham's bosom) and the rich man, (on the
other hand, set in the torment of fire) compensate, by an answerable
retribution, their alternate vicissitudes of evil and good. There are
certain gift-days, which with some adjust the claim of honour, with others
the debt of wages. "Now, then," you say, "I shall receive back what is mine,
or pay back what is another's." If men have consecrated for themselves this
custom from superstition, why do you, estranged as you are from all their
vanity, participate in solemnities consecrated to idols; as if for you also
there were some prescript about a day, short of the observance of a
particular day, to prevent your paying or receiving what you owe a man, or
what is owed you by a man? Give me the form after which you wish to be dealt
with. For why should you skulk withal, when you contaminate your own
conscience by your neighbour's ignorance? If you are not unknown to be a
Christian, you are tempted, and you act as if you were not a Christian
against your neighbour's conscience; if, however, you shall be disguised
withal,  you are the slave of the temptation. At all events, whether
in the latter or the former way, you are guilty of being "ashamed of God."
 But "whosoever shall be ashamed of Me in the presence of men, of him
will I too be ashamed," says He, "in the presence of my Father who is in the
Chapter XIV. Of Blasphemy. One of St. Paul's Sayings.
But, however, the majority (of Christians) have by this time induced the
belief in their mind that it is pardonable if at any time they do what the
heathen do, for fear "the Name be blasphemed." Now the blasphemy which must
quite be shunned by us in every way is, I take it, this: If any of us lead a
heathen into blasphemy with good cause, either by fraud, or by injury, or by
contumely, or any other matter of worthy complaint, in which "the Name" is
deservedly impugned, so that the Lord, too, be deservedly angry. Else, if of
all blasphemy it has been said, "By your means My Name is blasphemed,"
 we all perish at once; since the whole circus, with no desert of ours,
assails "the Name" with wicked suffrages. Let us cease (to be Christians)
and it will not be blasphemed! On the contrary, while we are, let it be
blasphemed: in the observance, not the overstepping, of discipline; while we
are being approved, not while we are being reprobated. Oh blasphemy,
bordering on martyrdom, which now attests me to be a Christian, 
while for that very account it detests me! The cursing of well-maintained
Discipline is a blessing of the Name. "If," says he, "I wished to please
men, I should not be Christ's servant."  But the same apostle
elsewhere bids us take care to please all: "As I," he says, "please all by
all means."  No doubt he used to please them by celebrating the
Saturnalia and New-year's day! [Was it so] or was it by moderation and
patience? by gravity, by kindness, by integrity? In like manner, when he is
saying, "I have become all things to all, that I may gain all," 
does he mean "to idolaters an idolater?" "to heathens a heathen?" "to the
worldly worldly?" But albeit he does not prohibit us from having our
conversation with idolaters and adulterers, and the other criminals, saying,
"Otherwise ye would go out from the world,"  of course he does not
so slacken those reins of conversation that, since it is necessary for us
both to live and to mingle with sinners, we may be able to sin with them
too. Where there is the intercourse of life, which the apostle concedes,
there is sinning, which no one permits. To live with heathens is lawful, to
die with them  is not. Let us live with all;  let us be glad
with them, out of community of nature, not of superstition. We are peers in
soul, not in discipline; fellow-possessors of the world, not of error. But
if we have no right of communion in matters of this kind with strangers, how
far more wicked to celebrate them among brethren! Who can maintain or defend
this? The Holy Spirit upbraids the Jews with their holy-days. "Your
Sabbaths, and new moons, and ceremonies," says He, "My soul hateth."
 By us, to whom Sabbaths are strange,  and the new moons and
festivals formerly beloved by God, the Saturnalia and New-year's and
Midwinter's festivals and Matronalia are frequented'presents come and
go'New-year's gifts'games join their noise'banquets join their din! Oh
better fidelity of the nations to their own sect, which claims no solemnity
of the Christians for itself! Not the Lord's day, not Pentecost, even it
they had known them, would they have shared with us; for they would fear
lest they should seem to be Christians. We are not apprehensive lest we seem
to be heathens! If any indulgence is to be granted to the flesh, you have
it. I will not say your own days,  but more too; for to the heathens
each festive day occurs but once annually: you have a festive day every
eighth day.  Call out the individual solemnities of the nations, and
set them out into a row, they will not be able to make up a Pentecost.
Chapter XV. Concerning Festivals in Honour of Emperors, Victories, and the
Like. Examples of the Three Children and Daniel.
But "let your works shine," saith He;  but now all our shops and
gates shine! You will now-a-days find more doors of heathens without lamps
and laurel-wreaths than of Christians. What does the case seem to be with
regard to that species (of ceremony) also? If it is an idol's honour,
without doubt an idol's honour is idolatry. If it is for a man's sake, let
us again consider that all idolatry is for man's sake;  let us again
consider that all idolatry is a worship done to men, since it is generally
agreed even among their worshippers that aforetime the gods themselves of
the nations were men; and so it makes no difference whether that
superstitious homage be rendered to men of a former age or of this. Idolatry
is condemned, not on account of the persons which are set up for worship,
but on account of those its observances, which pertain to demons. "The
things which are Cæsar's are to be rendered to Cæsar."  It is enough
that He set in apposition thereto, "and to God the things which are
God's." What things, then, are Cæsar's? Those, to wit, about which the
consultation was then held, whether the poll-tax should be furnished to
Cæsar or no. Therefore, too, the Lord demanded that the money should be
shown Him, and inquired about the image, whose it was; and when He had heard
it was Cæsar's, said, "Render to Cæsar what are Cæsar's, and what are God's
to God; "that is, the image of Cæsar, which is on the coin, to Cæsar, and
the image of God, which is on man,  to God; so as to render to Cæsar
indeed money, to God yourself. Otherwise, what will be God's, if all things
are Cæsar's? "Then," do you say, "the lamps before my doors, and the laurels
on my posts are an honour to God? "They are there of course, not because
they are an honour to God, but to him who is honour in God's stead by
ceremonial observances of that kind, so far as is manifest, saving the
religious performance, which is in secret appertaining to demons. For we
ought to be sure if there are any whose notice it escapes through ignorance
of this world's literature, that there are among the Romans even gods of
entrances; Cardea (Hinge-goddess), called after hinges, and Forculus
(Door-god) after doors, and Limentinus (Threshold-god) after the threshold,
and Janus himself (Gate-god) after the gate: and of course we know that,
though names be empty and reigned, yet, when they are drawn down into
superstition, demons and every unclean spirit seize them for themselves,
through the bond of consecration. Otherwise demons have no name
individually, but they there find a name where they find also a token. Among
the Greeks likewise we read of Apollo Thyræus, i.e. of the door, and the
Antelii, or Anthelii, demons, as presiders over entrances. These things,
therefore, the Holy Spirit foreseeing from the beginning, fore-chanted,
through the most ancient prophet Enoch, that even entrances would come into
superstitious use. For we see too that other entrances  are adored
in the baths. But if there are beings which are adored in entrances, it is
to them that both the lamps and the laurels will pertain. To an idol you
will have done whatever you shall have done to an entrance. In this place I
call a witness on the authority also of God; because it is not safe to
suppress whatever may have been shown to one, of course for the sake of all.
I know that a brother was severely chastised, the same night, through a
vision, because on the sudden announcement of public rejoicings his servants
had wreathed his gates. And yet himself had not wreathed, or commanded them
to be wreathed; for he had gone forth from home before, and on his return
had reprehended the deed. So strictly are we appraised with God in matters
of this kind, even with regard to the discipline of our family. 
Therefore, as to what relates to the honours due to kings or emperors, we
have a prescript sufficient, that it behoves us to be in all obedience,
according to the apostle's precept,  "subject to magistrates, and
princes, and powers; "  but within the limits of discipline, so long
as we keep ourselves separate from idolatry. For it is for this reason, too,
that that example of the three brethren has forerun us, who, in other
respects obedient toward king Nebuchodonosor rejected with all constancy the
honour to his image,  proving that whatever is extolled beyond the
measure of human honour, unto the resemblance of divine sublimity, is
idolatry. So too, Daniel, in all other points submissive to Darius, remained
in his duty so long as it was free from danger to his religion; 
for, to avoid undergoing that danger, he feared the royal lions no more than
they the royal fires. Let, therefore, them who have no light, light their
lamps daily; let them over whom the fires of hell are imminent, affix to
their posts, laurels doomed presently to burn: to them the testimonies of
darkness and the omens of their penalties are suitable. You are a light of
the world,  and a tree ever green.  If you have renounced
temples, make not your own gate a temple. I have said too little. If you
have renounced stews, clothe not your own house with the appearance of a new
Chapter XVI. Concerning Private Festivals.
Touching the ceremonies, however, of private and social solemnities'as those
of the white toga, of espousals, of nuptials, of name-givings'I should think
no danger need be guarded against from the breath of the idolatry which is
mixed up with them. For the causes are to be considered to which the
ceremony is due. Those above-named I take to be clean in themselves, because
neither manly garb, nor the marital ring or union, descends from honours
done to any idol. In short, I find no dress cursed by God, except a woman's
dress on a man:  for "cursed," saith He, "is every man who clothes
himself in woman's attire." The toga, however, is a dress of manly name as
well as of manly use.  God no more prohibits nuptials to be
celebrated than a name to be given. "But there are sacrifices appropriated
to these occasions." Let me be invited, and let not the title of the
ceremony be "assistance at a sacrifice," and the discharge of my good
offices is at the service of my friends. Would that it were "at their
service" indeed, and that we could escape seeing what is unlawful for us to
do. But since the evil one has so surrounded the world with idolatry, it
will be lawful for us to be present at some ceremonies which see us doing
service to a man, not to an idol. Clearly, if invited unto priestly function
and sacrifice, I will not go, for that is service peculiar to an idol; but
neither will I furnish advice, or expense, or any other good office in a
matter of that kind. If it is on account of the sacrifice that I be invited,
and stand by, I shall be partaker of idolatry; if any other cause conjoins
me to the sacrificer, I shall be merely a spectator of the sacrifice.
Chapter XVII. The Cases of Servants and Other Officials. What Offices a
Christian Man May Hold.
But what shall believing servants or children  do? officials
likewise, when attending on their lords, or patrons, or superiors, when
sacrificing? Well, if any one shall have handed the wine to a sacrificer,
nay, if by any single word necessary or belonging to a sacrifice he shall
have aided him, he will be held to be a minister of idolatry. Mindful of
this rule, we can render service even "to magistrates and powers," after the
example of the patriarchs and the other forefathers,  who obeyed
idolatrous kings up to the confine of idolatry. Hence arose, very lately, a
dispute whether a servant of God should take the administration of any
dignity or power, if he be able, whether by some special grace, or by
adroitness, to keep himself intact from every species of idolatry; after the
example that both Joseph and Daniel, clean from idolatry, administered both
dignity and power in the livery and purple of the prefecture of entire Egypt
or Babylonia. And so let us grant that it is possible for any one to succeed
in moving, in whatsoever office, under the mere name of the office, neither
sacrificing nor lending his authority to sacrifices; not farming out
victims; not assigning to others the care of temples; not looking after
their tributes; not giving spectacles at his own or the public charge, or
presiding over the giving them; making proclamation or edict for no
solemnity; not even taking oaths: moreover (what comes under the head of
power), neither sitting in judgment on any one's life or character, for you
might bear with his judging about money; neither condemning nor
fore-condemning;  binding no one, imprisoning or torturing no one'if
it is credible that all this is possible.
Chapter XVIII. Dress as Connected with Idolatry.
But we must now treat of the garb only and apparatus of office. There is a
dress proper to every one, as well for daily use as for office and dignity.
That famous purple, therefore, and the gold as an ornament of the neck,
were, among the Egyptians and Babylonians, ensigns of dignity, in the same
way as bordered, or striped, or palm-embroidered togas, and the golden
wreaths of provincial priests, are now; but not on the same terms. For they
used only to be conferred, under the name of honour, on such as deserved the
familiar friendship of kings (whence, too, such used to be styled the
"purpled-men"  of kings, just as among us,  some, from their
white toga, are called "candidates"  ); but not on the understanding
that that garb should be tied to priesthoods also, or to any
idol-ceremonies. For if that were the case, of course men of such holiness
and constancy  would instantly have refused the defiled dresses; and
it would instantly have appeared that Daniel had been no zealous slave to
idols, nor worshipped Bel, nor the dragon, which long after did appear. That
purple, therefore, was simple, and used not at that time to be a mark of
dignity  among the barbarians, but of nobility.  For as both
Joseph, who had been a slave, and Daniel, who through  captivity had
changed his state, attained the freedom of the states of Babylon and Egypt
through the dress of barbaric nobility;  so among us believers also,
if need so be, the bordered toga will be proper to be conceded to boys, and
the stole to girls,  as ensigns of birth, not of power; of race, not
of office; of rank, not of superstition. But the purple, or the other
ensigns of dignities and powers, dedicated from the beginning to idolatry
engrafted on the dignity and the powers, carry the spot of their own
profanation; since, moreover, bordered and striped togas, and broad-barred
ones, are put even on idols themselves; and fasces also, and rods, are borne
before them; and deservedly, for demons are the magistrates of this world:
they bear the fasces and the purples, the ensigns of one college. What end,
then, will you advance if you use the garb indeed, but administer not the
functions of it? In things unclean, none can appear clean. If you put on a
tunic defiled in itself, it perhaps may not be defiled through you; but you,
through it, will be unable to be clean. Now by this time, you who argue
about "Joseph" and "Daniel," know that things old and new, rude and
polished, begun and developed, slavish and free, are not always comparable.
For they, even by their circumstances, were slaves; but you, the slave of
none,  in so far as you are the slave of Christ alone,  who
has freed you likewise from the captivity of the world, will incur the duty
of acting after your Lord's pattern. That Lord walked in humility and
obscurity, with no definite home: for "the Son of man," said He, "hath not
where to lay His head; "  unadorned in dress, for else He had not
said, "Behold, they who are clad in soft raiment are in kings' houses: "
 in short, inglorious in countenance and aspect, just as Isaiah withal
had fore-announced.  If, also, He exercised no right of power even
over His own followers, to whom He discharged menial ministry;  if,
in short, though conscious of His own kingdom,  He shrank back from
being made a king,  He in the fullest manner gave His own an example
for turning coldly from all the pride and garb, as well of dignity as of
power. For if they were to be used, who would rather have used them than the
Son of God? What kind and what number of fasces would escort Him? what kind
of purple would bloom from His shoulders? what kind of gold would beam from
His head, had He not judged the glory of the world to be alien both to
Himself and to His? Therefore what He was unwilling to accept, He has
rejected; what He rejected, He has condemned; what He condemned, He has
counted as part of the devil's pomp. For He would not have condemned things,
except such as were not His; but things which are not God's, can be no
other's but the devil's. If you have forsworn "the devil's pomp," 
know that whatever there you touch is idolatry. Let even this fact help to
remind you that all the powers and dignities of this world are not only
alien to, but enemies of, God; that through them punishments have been
determined against God's servants; through them, too, penalties prepared for
the impious are ignored. But "both your birth and your substance are
troublesome to you in resisting idolatry."  For avoiding it,
remedies cannot be lacking; since, even if they be lacking, there remains
that one by which you will be made a happier magistrate, not in the earth,
but in the heavens. 
Chapter XIX. Concerning Military Service.
In that last section, decision may seem to have been given likewise
concerning military service, which is between dignity and power. 
But now inquiry is made about this point, whether a believer may turn
himself unto military service, and whether the military may be admitted unto
the faith, even the rank and file, or each inferior grade, to whom there is
no necessity for taking part in sacrifices or capital punishments. There is
no agreement between the divine and the human sacrament,  the
standard of Christ and the standard of the devil, the camp of light and the
camp of darkness. One soul cannot be due to two masters'God and Cæsar. And
yet Moses carried a rod,  and Aaron wore a buckle,  and John
(Baptist) is girt with leather  and Joshua the son of Nun leads a
line of march; and the People warred: if it pleases you to sport with the
subject. But how will a Christian man war, nay, how will he serve even in
peace, without a sword, which the Lord has taken away?  For albeit
soldiers had come unto John, and had received the formula of their rule;
 albeit, likewise, a centurion had believed;  still the Lord
afterward, in disarming Peter, unbe
d every soldier. No dress is lawful among us, if assigned to any unlawful
Chapter XX. Concerning Idolatry in Words.
But, however, since the conduct according to the divine rule is imperilled,
not merely by deeds, but likewise by words, (for, just as it is written,
"Behold the man and his deeds; "  so, "Out of thy own mouth shalt
thou be justified"  ), we ought to remember that, even in words,
also the inroad of idolatry must be foreguarded against, either from the
defect of custom or of timidity. The law prohibits the gods of the nations
from being named,  not of course that we are not to pronounce their
names, the speaking of which common intercourse extorts from us: for this
must very frequently be said, "You find him in the temple of Æsculapius;
"and, "I live in Isis Street; "and, "He has been made priest of Jupiter;
"and much else after this manner, since even on men names of this kind are
bestowed. I do not honour Saturnus if I call a man so, by his own name. I
honour him no more than I do Marcus, if I call a man Marcus. But it says,
"Make not mention of the name of other gods, neither be it heard from thy
mouth."  The precept it gives is this, that we do not call them
gods. For in the first part of the law, too, "Thou shalt not," saith He,
"use the name of the Lord thy God in a vain thing,"  that is, in an
idol.  Whoever, therefore, honours an idol with the name of God, has
fallen into idolatry. But if i speak of them as gods, something must be
added to make it appear that I do not call them gods. For even the Scripture
names "gods," but adds "their," viz. "of the nations: "just as David does
when he had named "gods," where he says, "But the gods of the nations are
demons."  But this has been laid by me rather as a foundation for
ensuing observations. However, it is a defect of custom to say, "By
Hercules, So help me the god of faith; "  while to the custom is
added the ignorance of some, who are ignorant that it is an oath by
Hercules. Further, what will an oath be, in the name of gods whom you have
forsworn, but a collusion of faith with idolatry? For who does not honour
them in whose name he swears?
Chapter XXI. Of Silent Acquiescence in Heathen Formularies.
But it is a mark of timidity, when some other man binds you in the name of
his gods, by the making of an oath, or by some other form of attestation,
and you, for fear of discovery,  remain quiet. For you equally, by
remaining quiet, affirm their majesty, by reason of which majesty you will
seem to be bound. What matters it, whether you affirm the gods of the
nations by calling them gods, or by hearing them so called? Whether you
swear by idols, or, when adjured by another, acquiesce? Why should we not
recognize the subtleties of Satan, who makes it his aim that, what he cannot
effect by our mouth, he may effect by the mouth of his servants, introducing
idolatry into us through our ears? At all events, whoever the adjurer is, he
binds you to himself either in friendly or unfriendly conjunction. If in
unfriendly, you are now challenged unto battle, and know that you must
fight. If in friendly, with how far greater security will you transfer your
engagement unto the Lord, that you may dissolve the obligation of him
through whose means the Evil One was seeking to annex you to the honour of
idols, that is, to idolatry! All sufferance of that kind is idolatry. You
honour those to whom, when imposed as authorities, you have rendered
respect. I know that one (whom the Lord pardon!), when it had been said to
him in public during a law-suit, "Jupiter be wroth with you," answered, "On
the contrary, with you." What else would a heathen have done who believed
Jupiter to be a god? For even had he not retorted the malediction by Jupiter
(or other such like), yet, by merely returning a curse, he would have
confirmed the divinity of Jove, showing himself irritated by a malediction
in Jove's name. For what is there to be indignant at, (if cursed) in the
name of one whom you know to be nothing? For if you rave, you immediately
affirm his existence, and the profession of your fear will be an act of
idolatry. How much more, while you are returning the malediction in the name
of Jupiter himself, are you doing honour to Jupiter in the same way as he
who provoked you! But a believer ought to laugh in such cases, not to rave;
nay, according to the precept,  not to return a curse in the name of
God even, but dearly to bless in the name of God, that you may both demolish
idols and preach God, and fulfil discipline.
Chapter XXII. Of Accepting Blessing in the Name of Idols.
Equally, one who has been initiated into Christ will not endure to be
blessed in the name of the gods of the nations, so as not always to reject
the unclean benediction, and to cleanse it out for himself by converting it
Godward. To be blessed in the name of the gods of the nations is to be
cursed in the name of God. If I have given an alms, or shown any other
kindness, and the recipient pray that his gods, or the Genius of the colony,
may be propitious to me, my oblation or act will immediately be an honour to
idols, in whose name he returns me the favour of blessing. But why should he
not know that I have done it for God's sake; that God may rather be
glorified, and demons may not be honoured in that which I have done for the
sake of God? If God sees that I have done it for His sake, He equally sees
that I have been unwilling to show that I did it for His sake, and have in a
manner made His precept  a sacrifice to idols. Many say, "No one
ought to divulge himself; "but I think neither ought he to deny himself. For
whoever dissembles in any cause whatever, by being held as a heathen, does
deny; and, of course, all denial is idolatry, just as all idolatry is
denial, whether in deeds or in words. 
Chapter XXIII. Written Contracts in the Name of Idols. Tacit Consent.
But there is a certain species of that class, doubly sharpened in deed and
word, and mischievous on either side, although it flatter you, as if it were
free of danger in each; while it does not seem to be a deed, because it is
not laid hold of as a word. In borrowing money from heathens under
pledged  securities, Christians give a guarantee under oath, and
deny themselves to have done so. Of course, the time of the prosecution, and
the place of the judgment seat, and the person of the presiding judge,
decide that they knew themselves to have so done.  Christ prescribes
that there is to be no swearing. "I wrote," says the debtor, "but I said
nothing. It is the tongue, not the written letter, which kills." Here I call
Nature and Conscience as my witnesses: Nature, because even if the tongue in
dictating remains motionless and quiet, the hand can write nothing which the
soul has not dictated; albeit even to the tongue itself the soul may have
dictated either something conceived by itself, or else something delivered
by another. Now, lest it be said, "Another dictated," I here appeal to
Conscience whether, what another dictated, the soul entertains,  and
transmits unto the hand, whether with the concomitance or the inaction of
the tongue. Enough, that the Lord has said faults are committed in the mind
and the conscience. If concupiscence or malice have ascended into a man's
heart, He saith it is held as a deed.  You therefore have given a
guarantee; which clearly has "ascended into your heart," which you can
neither contend you were ignorant of nor unwilling; for when you gave the
guarantee, you knew that you did it; when you knew, of course you were
willing: you did it as well in act as in thought; nor can you by the lighter
charge exclude the heavier,  so as to say that it is clearly
rendered false, by giving a guarantee I for what you do not actually
perform. "Yet I have not denied, because I have not sworn." But you have
sworn, since, even if you had done no such thing, you would still be said to
swear, if you have even consented to so doing. Silence of voice is an
unavailing plea in a case of writing; and muteness of sound in a case of
letters. For Zacharias, when punished with a temporary privation of voice,
holds colloquy with his mind, and, passing by his bootless tongue, with the
help of his hands dictates from his heart, and without his mouth pronounces
the name of his son.  Thus, in his pen there speaks a hand clearer
than every sound, in his waxen tablet there is heard a letter more vocal
that every mouth.  Inquire whether a man have spoken who is
understood to have spoken.  Pray we the Lord that no necessity for
that kind of contract may ever encompass us; and if it should so fall out,
may He give our brethren the means of helping us, or give us constancy to
break off all such necessity, lest those denying letters, the substitutes
for our mouth, be brought forward against us in the day of judgment, sealed
with the seals, not now of witnesses, but of angels!
Chapter XXIV. General Conclusion.
Amid these reefs and inlets, amid these shallows and straits of idolatry,
Faith, her sails filled by the Spirit of God, navigates; safe if cautious,
secure if intently watchful. But to such as are washed overboard is a deep
whence is no out-swimming; to such as are run aground is inextricable
shipwreck; to such as are engulphed is a whirlpool, where there is no
breathing'even in idolatry. All waves thereof whatsoever suffocate; every
eddy thereof sucks down unto Hades. Let no one say, "Who will so safely
foreguard himself? We shall have to go out of the world!"  As if it
were not as well worth while to go out, as to stand in the world as an
idolater! Nothing can be easier than caution against idolatry, if the fear
of it be our leading fear; any "necessity" whatever is too trifling compared
to such a peril. The reason why the Holy Spirit did, when the apostles at
that time were consulting, relax the bond and yoke for us,  was that
we might be free to devote ourselves to the shunning of idolatry. This shall
be our Law, the more fully to be administered the more ready it is to hand;
(a Law) peculiar to Christians, by means whereof we are recognised and
examined by heathens. This Law must be set before such as approach unto the
Faith, and inculcated on such as are entering it; that, in approaching, they
may deliberate; observing it, may persevere; not observing it, may renounce
their name.  We will see to it, if, after the type of the Ark, there
shall be in the Church raven, kite, dog, and serpent. At all events, an
idolater is not found in the type of the Ark: no animal has been fashioned
to represent an idolater. Let not that be in the Church which was not in the
The Second Commandment, p. 64.
Tertullian's teaching agrees with that of Clement of Alexandria  and
with all the Primitive Fathers. But compare the Trent Catechism, (Chapter
ii., quest. 17.)'"Nor let any one suppose that this commandment prohibits
the arts of painting, modelling or sculpture, for, in the Scriptures we are
informed that God himself commanded images of cherubim, and also of the
brazen serpent, to be made, etc." So far, the comparison is important,
because while our author limits any inference from this instance as an
exception, this Catechism turns it into a rule: and so far, we are only
looking at the matter with reference to Art. But, the Catechism, (Chapter
ii., quest. xxiii. xxiv.), goes on to teach that images of the Saints, etc.
ought to be made and honoured "as a holy practice." It affirms, also, that
it is a practice which has been attended with the greatest advantage to the
faithful: which admits of a doubt, especially when the honour thus mentioned
is everywhere turned into worship, precisely like that offered to the Brazen
Serpent, when the People "burned incense to it," and often much more. But
even this is not my point; for that Catechism, with what verity need not be
argued, affirms, also, that this doctrine "derives confirmation from the
monuments of the Apostolic age, the general Councils of the Church, and the
writings of so many most holy and learned Fathers, who are of one accord
upon the subject." Doubtless they are "of one accord," but all the other
Military service, cap. xix., p. 73.
This Chapter must prepare us for a much more sweeping condemnation of the
military profession in the De Spectaculis and the De Corona; but Neander's
judgment seems to me very just. The Corona, itself, is rather Montanistic
than Montanist, in the opinion of some critics, among whom Gibbon is not to
count for much, for the reasons given by Kaye (p. 52), and others hardly
less obvious. Surely, if this ascetic opinion and some similar instances
were enough to mark a man as a heretic, what are we to say of the thousand
crotchets maintained by good Christians, in our day?
Passive idolatry, cap. xxii., pp. 74, 75.
Neander's opinion as to the freedom of De Idololatria from Montanistic
taint, is mildly questioned by Bp. Kaye, chiefly on the ground of the
agreement of this Chapter with the extravagances of the Scorpiace. He thinks
"the utmost pitch" of such extravagance is reached in the positions here
taken. But Neander's judgment seems to me preferable. Lapsers usually give
tokens of the bent of their minds, and unconsciously betray their
inclinations before they themselves see whither they are tending. Thus they
become victims of their own plausible self-deceptions.
Tacit consents and reservations, cap. xxiii., p. 75.
It cannot be doubted that apart from the specific case which Tertullian is
here maintaining, his appeal to conscience is maintained by reason, by the
Morals of the Fathers and by Holy Scripture. Now compare with this the
Morality which has been made dogmatic, among Latins, by the elevation of
Liguori to the dignities of a "Saint" and a "Doctor of the Church." Even
Cardinal Newman cannot accept it without reservations, so thoroughly does it
commit the soul to fraud and hyprocrisy. See Liguori, Opp. Tom. II., pp.
34-44, and Meyrick, Moral Theology of the Church of Rome, London, 1855.
Republished, with an Introduction, by the Editor of this Series, Baltimore,
1857. Also Newman, Apologia, p. 295et seqq.
 [This solemn sentence vindicates the place I have given to the De
Idololatria in the order adopted for this volume. After this and the Apology
come three treatises confirming its positions, and vindicating the
principles of Christians in conflict with Idolatry, the great generic crime
of a world lying in wickedness. These three are the De Spectaculis, the De
Corona and the Ad Scapulam. The De Spectaculis was written after this
treatise, in which indeed it is mentioned, (Cap. xiii.) but logically it
follows, illustrates and enforces it. Henece my practical plan : which will
be concluded by a scheme (conjectural in part) of chronological order in
which precision is affirmed by all critics to be impossible, but, by which
we may reach approximate accuracy, with great advantage. The De Idololatria
is free from Montanism. But see Kaye, p. xvi.]
 Lit., "has not perished," as if the perishing were already complete;
as, of course, it is judically as soon as the guilt is incurred, though not
 i.e., in idolatry.
 A play on the word: we should say, "an adulterator."
 Oehler refers to Ezek. xxiii.; but many other references imght be
given' in the Pentateuch and Psalms, for instance.
 Matt. v. 28.
 Matt. 5. 22.
 1 John. iii. 15.
 Rev. ii. 24.
 Matt. v. 20.
 "Boiled out," "bubbled out."
 Or, brass.
 i.e., a little form.
 Idolatry, namely.
 [Capitalized to mark its emphatic sense, i.e., the People of God =
 See Ex. xxxii.; and compare 1 Cor. x. 7, where the latter part of
Ex. xxxii. 6 is quoted.
 Lev. xxvi. 1; Ex. xx. 4; Deut. v. 8. It must of course be borne in
mind that Tertullian has defined the meaning of the word idolin the former
Chapter, and speaks with reference to that definition.
 Compare de Oratione, c. 23, and de Virg. Vel. c. 7.
 "Sanguinis perditionis:" such is the reading of Oehler and others.
If it be correct, probably the phrase "perdition of blood" must be taken as
equivalent to "bloody perdition," after the Hebrew fashion. Compare, for
similar instances, 2 Sam. xvi. 7; Ps. v. 6, xxvi. 9. Lv. 23; Ezek. xxii. 2,
with the marginal readings. But Fr. Junius would read, "Of blood and of
perdition"'sanguinis et perditionis. Oehler's own interpretation of the
reading he gives'"blood-shedding"'appears unsatisfactory.
 "In fanis." This is Oehler's reading on conjecture. Other readings
are'infamis, infamibus, insanis, infernis.
 Isa. xliv. 8 et seqq.
 Ps. cxv. 8. In our version, "They that make them are like unto
them." Tertullian again agrees with the LXX.
 Cf. Chaps.viii. And xii.
 i.e., the Discipline of the house of God, the Church. Oehler reads,
"eam disciplinam," and takes the meaning to be that no artificer of this
class should be admitted into the Church, if he applies for admittance, with
a knowledge of the law of God referred to in the former Chapters, yet
persisting in his unlawful craft. Fr. Junius would read, "ejus
 i.e., If laws of your own, and not the will and law of God, are the
source and means of your life, you owe no thanks and no obedience to God,
and therefore need not seek admittance into His house (Oehler).
 1 Cor. vii. 20. In Eng. ver., "Let every man abide in the same
calling wherein he was called."
 1 Thess. iv. 11; 2 Thess. iii. 6-12.
 i.e., thieves who frequented the public baths, which were a
favorite resort at Rome.
 The Marcionites.
 [The argument amounts to this, that symbols were not idols : yet
even so, God only could ordain symbols that were innocent. The Nehushtan of
King Hezekiah teaches us the "peril of Idolatry" ( 2 Kings, xviii. 4) and
that even a divine symbol may be destroyed justly if it be turned to a
violation of the Second Commandment.]
 [On which see Dr. Smith, Dict. Of the Bible, ad vocem "Serpent."]
 i.e., the Jewish people, who are generally meant by the expression
"the People" in the singular number in Scripture. We shall endeavour to mark
that distinction by writing the word, as here, with a capital.
 See 1 Cor. x. 6, 11.
 On the principle that the exception proves the urle. As Oehler
explains it: "By the fact of the extraordinary precept in that particular
case, God gave an indication that likeness-making had before been forbidden
and interdicted by Him."
 Ex. xx. 4, etc. [The absurd "brazen serpent" which I have seen in
the Church of St. Ambrose, in Milan, is with brazen hardihood affirmed to be
the identical serpent which Moses lifted up in the wilderness. But it lacks
all symbolic character, as it is not set upon a pole nor in any way fitted
to a cross. It greatly resembles a vane set upon a pivot.]
 [Elucidation I.]
 i.e., Unless you made them, they would not exist, and therefore
[would not be regarded as divinities; therefore] your diligence gives them
 Matt. xviii. 8.
 See chaps. v. and xii.
 See chap. ii., "The expansiveness of idolatry."
 Abacum. The word has various meanings; but this, perhaps, is its
most general use: as, for instance, in Horace and Juvenal.
 Alterius = which in the New Testament is = to
"neighbour" in Rom. xiii. 8, etc. [Our author must have borne in mind
Cicero's beautiful words'"Etenim omnes artes quae ad humanitatem pertinent
habent quoddam commune vinculum," etc. Pro Archia, i. tom. x. p. 10. Ed.
 Quaestum. Another reading is "questum," which would require us to
 "Quorum manus non ignorantium," i.e., "the hands of whom not
unwitting;" which may be rendered as above, because in English, as in the
Latin, in adjective "unwitting" belongs to the "whose," not to the
 "Ars" in Latin is very generally used to mean "a scientific art."
[See Titus iii. 14. English margin.]
 See Eph. v. 11, 12, and similar passages.
 i.e., by naming the stars after them.
 Comp. chap. iv., and the references there given. The idea seems
founded on an ancient reading found in the Codex Alexandrinus of the LXX.
In Gen. vi. 2, "angels of God," for "sons of God."
 See Tac. Ann. ii. 31, etc. (Oehler.)
 See Matt. ii.
 Because the names of the heathen divinities, which used to be given
to the stars, were in many cases only names of dead men deified.
 Or, heathenish.
 Or, sect.
 See Ex. vii., viii., and comp. 2 Tim. iii. 8.
 See Acts viii. 9-24.
 See Acts xiii. 6-11.
 1 Cor. i. 20.
 See Acts viii. 21.
 See 1 Cor. vii. 31, "They that use this world as not abusing it."
The astrologer abuses the heavens by putting the heavenly bodies to a sinful
 i.e., the seven planets.
 See 1 Cor. viii. 10.
 i.e., because "he does not nominally eat," etc.
 [Note the Christian Schoolmaster, already distinguished as such,
implying the existence and the character of Christian schools. Of which,
learn more from the Emperor Julian, afterwards.]
 i.e., the name of gods.
 Ex. xxiii. 13; Josh. xxiii. 7; Ps. xvi. 4; Hos. ii. 17; Zech. xiii.
 i.e., the name of God.
 i.e., on an idol, which, as Isaiah says, is "vanity."
 1 Tim. vi. 10.
 1 Tim. i. 19.
 Col. iii. 5. It has been suggested that for "quamvis" we should
read "quum bis;" i.e., "seeing covetousness is twice called," etc. The two
places are Col. iii. 5, and Eph. v. 5.
 Matt. v. 34-37; Jas. v. 12.
 [The aversion of the early Christian Fathers passim to the
ceremonial use of incense finds one explanation here.]
 i.e., the demons, or idols, to whom incense is burned.
 i.e., from one possessed.
 i.e., The demon, in gratitude for the incense which the man daily
feeds him with, ought to depart out of the possessed at his request.
 i.e., in baptism.
 See above, chaps. v. and viii. [One is reminded here of the famous
pleasantry of Dr. Johnson; see Boswell.]
 See Luke xiv. 28-30.
 Luke vi. 20.
 Matt. vi. 25, 31, etc. : Luke xii. 22-24.
 Matt. vi. 28; Luke xii. 28.
 Matt. xix. 21; Luke xviii. 22.
 Luke ix. 62, where the words are, "is fit for the kingdom of
 Matt. vi. 24; Luke xvi. 13.
 Matt. xvi. 24; Mark viii. 34; Luke ix. 23, xiv. 27.
 Luke xiv. 26; Mark x. 29,30; Matt. xix. 27-30. Compare these texts
with Tertullian's words, and see the testimony he thus gives to the deity of
 i.e., any dear relations.
 Matt. iv. 21, 22, Mark i. 19,20; Luke v. 10, 11.
 Matt. ix. 9; Mark ii. 14; Luke v. 29.
 Luke ix. 59, 60.
 Matt. xix. 26; Luke i. 37, xviii. 27.
 The treatise De Spectaculis [soon to follow, in this volume.]
 Rom. xii. 15.
 See 2 Cor. vi. 14. In the De Spect. xxvi. Tertullian has the same
quotation (Oehler). And there, too, he adds, as here, "between life and
 John xvi. 20. It is observable that Tertullian here translates
 i.e., Lazarus, Luke xvi. 19-31.
 "Apud infernos," used clearly here by Tertullian of a place of
happiness. Augustine says he never finds it so used in Scripture. See
Ussher's "Answer to a Jesuit" on the Article, "He descended into hell." [See
Elucid. X. p. 59, supra.]
 i.e., if you are unknown to be a Christian: "dissimulaberis." This
is Oehler's reading; but Latinius and Fr. Junis would read
"Dissimulaveris," = "if you dissemble the fact" of being a Christian, which
perhaps is better.
 So Mr. Dodgson renders very well.
 Matt. x. 33; Mark viii. 38; Luke ix. 26; 2 Tim. ii. 12.
 Isa. lii. 5; Ezek. xxxvi. 20, 23. Cf. 2 Sam. xii. 14; Rom. ii. 24.
 [This play on the words is literally copied from the
original'"quae tunc me testatur Christianum, cum propter ea me
 St. Paul. Gal. i. 10.
 1 Cor. x. 32,33.
 1 Cor. ix. 22.
 1 Cor. v. 10.
 i.e., by sinning (Oehler), for "the wages of sin is death."
 There seems to be a play no the word "convivere" (whence
"convivium," etc.), as in Cic. de Sen. xiii.
 Isa. i. 14, etc.
 [This is noteworthy. In the earlier days sabbaths (Saturdays) were
not unobserved, but, it was a concession pro tempore, to Hebrew Christians.]
 i.e., perhaps your own birthdays. [See cap. xvi. infra.] Oehler
seems to think it means, "all other Christian festivals beside Sunday."
 ["An Easter Day in every week."'Keble.]
 i.e., a space of fifty days, see Deut. xvi. 10; and comp. Hooker,
Ecc. Pol. iv. 13, 7, ed. Keble.
 Matt. v. 16.
 See chap. ix. p. 152, note 4.
 Matt. xxii. 21; Mark xii. 17; Luke xx. 25.
 See Gen. i. 26,27,ix. 6; and comp. 1 Cor. xi. 7.
 The word is the same as that for "the mouth" of a river, etc.
Hence Oehler supposes the "entrances" or "mouths" here referred to to be the
mouths of fountains, where nymphs were supposed to dwell. Nympha is supposed
to be the same word as Lympha. See Hor. Sat. i. 5, 97; and Macleane's note.
 [He seems to refer to some Providential event, perhaps announced
in a dream, not necessarily out of the course of common occurences.]
 Rom. xiii. 1, etc.; 1 Pet. ii, 13, 14.
 Tit. iii. 1.
 Dan. iii.
 Dan. vi.
 Matt. v. 14; Phil. ii. 15.
 Ps. i. 1-3, xcii. 12-15.
 Tertullian should have added, "and a man's on a woman." See Deut.
xxii. 5. Moreover, the word "cursed" is not used there, but "abomination"
 Because it was called toga virilis'"the manly toga."
 [1 Cor. viii. The law of the inspired apostle seems as rigorous
here and in 1 Cor. x. 27-29.]
 This is Oehler's reading; Regaltius and Fr. Junius would read
"liberti" = freedmen. I admit that in this instance I prefer their reading;
among other reasons it answers better to "patronis" = "patrons."
 Majores. Of course the word may be rendered simply "ancients;" but
I have kept the common meaning "forefathers."
 "The judge condemns, the legislator fore-condemns."'Rigaltius
 Or, "purpurates."
 [Not us Christians, but us Roman citizens.]
 Or, "white-men."
 Or, "consistency."
 i.e., Official character.
 Or, "free" or "good" "birth."
 Or, "during."
 i.e., the dress was the sign that they had obtained it.
 I have departed from Oehler's reading here, as I have not
succeeded in finding that the "stola" was a boy's garment; and, for
grammatical reasons, the reading of Gelenius and Pamelius (which I have
taken) seems best.
 See 1 Cor. ix. 19.
 St. Paul in his epistle glories in the title, "Paul, a slave," or
"bondman," "of Christ Jesus."
 Luke ix. 58; Matt. viii. 20.
 Matt. xi. 8; Luke vii. 25.
 Isa. liii. 2.
 See John xiii. 1-17.
 See John xviii. 36.
 John vi. 15.
 In baptism.
 i.e., From your birth and means, you will be expected to fill
offices which are in some way connected with idolatry.
 i.e., Martyrdom (La Cerda, quoted by Oehler). For the idea of
being "a magistrate in the heavens," [sitting on a throne] compare such
passages as Matt. xix. 28; Luke xxii. 28, 30, 1 Cor. vi. 2,3; Rev. ii.
26,27, iii. 21.
 Elucidation II.
 "Sacramentum" in Latin is, among other meanings, "a military
 Virgam." The vine switch, or rod, in the Roman army was a mark of
the centurion's (i.e., captain's) rank.
 To fasten the ephod; hence the buckle worn by soldiers here
referred to would probably be the belt buckle. Buckles were sometimes given
as military rewards (White and Riddle).
 As soldiers with belts.
 Matt. xxvi. 52; 2 Cor. x. 4; St. John xviii. 36.
 See Luke iii. 12,13.
 Matt. viii. 5, etc; Luke vii. 1, etc.
 Neither Oehler nor any editor seems to have discovered the passage
here referred to.
 Matt. xii. 37.
 Ex. xxiii. 13. [St. Luke, nevertheless, names Castor and Pollux,
Acts xxviii. ii., on our author's principle.]
 Ex. xxiii. 13.
 Ex. xx. 7.
 Because Scripture calls idols "vanities" and "vain things." See 2
Kings xvii. 15, Ps. xxiv. 4, Isa. lix. 4, Deut. xxxii. 21, etc.
 Ps. xcvi. 5. The LXX. In whose version ed. Tisch. It is Ps. xcv.
Read , like Tertullian. Our version has "idols."
 Mehercule. Medius Fidius. I have given the rendering of the
latter, which seems preferred by Paley (Ov. Fast. vi. 213, note), who
considers it = me dius (i.e., Deus) fidius juvet. Smith (Lat. Dict. s.v.)
agrees with him, and explains it, me deus fidius servet. White and Riddle
(s.v.) take the me (which appears to be short) as a "demonstrative" particle
or prefix, and explain, "By the God of truth!" "As true as heaven," "Most
 i.e., for fear of being discovered to be a Christian (Oehler).
 See Matt. v. 44, 1 Pet. iii. 9, etc.
 i.e., the precept which enjoins me to "do good and lend."
 Elucidation III.
 Or, "mortgaged."
 This is, perhaps, the most obscure and difficult passage in the
entire treatise. I have followed Oehler's reading, and given what appears to
be his sense; but the readins are widely different, and it is doubtful
whether any is correct. I can scarcely, however, help thinking that the "se
negant" here, and the "tamen non negavi" below, are to be connected with the
"puto autem nec negare" at the end of the former Chapter; and that the true
rendering is rather: "And [by so doing] deny themselves," i.e., deny their
Christian name and faith. "Doubtless a time of persecution," such as the
present time is'or "of prosecution," which would make very good sense'"and
the place of the tribunal, and the person of the presiding judge, require
them to know themselves," i.e., to have no shuffling or disguise. I submit
this rendering with diffidencel but it does seem to me to suit the context
better, and to harmonize better with the "Yet I have not denied," i.e., my
name and faith, which follows, and with the "denying letters" which are
mentioned at the end of the Chapter.'Tr.
 Mr. Dodgson renders "conceiveth;" and the word is certainly
capable of that meaning.
 See Matt. v. 28.
 Oehler understands "the lighter crime" or "charge" to be
"swearing;" the "heavier," to be "denying the Lord Christ."
 See Luke i. 20,22,62,63.
 This is how Mr. Dodgson renders, and the rendering agrees with
Oehler's punctuation. [So obscure however, is Dodgson's rendering that I
have slightly changed the punctuation, to clarify it, and subjoin Oehler's
text.] But perhaps we may read thus: "he speaks in his pen; he is heard in
his waxen tablet : the hand is clearer than every sound ; the letter is more
vocal than every mouth." [Oehler reads thus: "Cum manibus suis a corde
dictat et nomen filii sine ore pronuntiat: loquitur in stilo, auditur in
cera manus omni sono clarios, littera omni ore vocalior." I see no
 Elucidation IV.
 1 Cor. v. 10.
 Acts xv. 1-31.
 i.e., cease to be Christians (Rigalt., referred to by Oehler).
 [General references to Kaye (3d edition), which will be useful to
those consulting that author's Tertullian, for Elucidations of the De
Idololatria, are as follows: Preface, p. xxiii. Then, pp. 56, 141, 206, 231,
300, 360, 343, 360 and 362.]
 See vol. ii., p. 186, this series.
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