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SECT. VI. Against the worship given to brute creatures.

BUT that which is of all things most abominable, is, that some men, particularly the Egyptians, fell into the worship even of beasts.488488   Concerning whom, Philo, in his embassy, says, “They esteem dogs, wolves, lions, crocodiles, and many other wild creatures iv the water and on the land, and birds, as gods.” To which may be added, a long discourse of this matter, in the first book of Diodorus Siculus. For though in some of them there do appear, as it were, some shadow of understanding, yet it is nothing compared with man; for they cannot express their inward conceptions either by distinct words or writings; nor do they perform actions of different kinds, nor those of the same kind, in a different manner; and much less can they attain to the knowledge of number, magnitude, and of the celestial motions. But, on the other hand, man, by his cunning and subtlety, can catch the strongest creatures, wild beasts, birds, or fishes; and can in some measure bring them under rules, as elephants, lions, horses, and oxen;489489   Euripides in Æolus:— Man has but little strength, Yet can, by various arts, Tame the wildest creatures In sea, or earth, or air.”
   And Antiphon:—

   “They us in strength, we them in art, exceed.”

   Which affords us no bad explication of Genesis i. 26. and Psalm viii. 6. He that desires a larger discourse of this matter, may look into Oppianus, in the beginning of his fifth book of fishing, and Basil’s tenth homily on the six days of creation. Origen, in his fourth book against Celsus, has these words: “And hence you may learn, for how great a help our understanding was given us, and how far it exceeds all the weapons of wild beasts: for our bodies are much weaker than those of other creatures, and vastly less than some of them; yet, by our understanding, we bring wild beasts under our power, and hunt huge elephants; and those whose nature is such that they may be tamed, we make subject to us; and those that are of a different stature, or the taming of which seems to be of no use to us, we manage these wild beasts with such safety, that, as we will, we keep them shut up, or, if we want their flesh for meat, we kill them as we do other creatures that are not wild. Whence it appears that the Creator made all living creatures subject to him who is endued with reason, and a nature capable of understanding him.” Claudius Neapolitanus, in Porphyry’s first book against eating living creatures, speaks thus concerning man: “He is lord over all creatures void of reason, as (sod is over man.”
he can draw advantage to himself out of those that are 163most hurtful, as physic from vipers: and this use may be made of them all, which themselves are ignorant of, that by viewing the structure and situation of the parts of their bodies, and comparing together their several species and kinds, he learns his own excellency, and how much more perfect and noble the frame of the human body Is than others; which, if rightly considered, is so far from inclining him to worship other creatures, that he should rather think himself appointed their god in a manner, under the Supreme God.


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